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Meta's Threads Surges with 30 Million Sign-Ups in 18 Hours, Threat to Elon Musk's Twitter

Threads, the new app by Meta, garnered massive sign-ups and emerged as a formidable competitor to Twitter, leveraging its access to Instagram's user base.

Credits: REUTERS

Meta's Threads, popularly known as the "Twitter-Killer," achieved a groundbreaking milestone by amassing over 30 million sign-ups within a mere 18 hours of its launch.

This rapid success has positioned Threads as a genuine threat to Elon Musk's Twitter empire. Capitaing on its vast pool of Instagram users and a design reminiscent of its rival platform, Threads has quickly risen to the top. In fact, it claimed the coveted position of the most downloaded free app on Apple's App Store in both the UK and the US on Thursday.

The advent of Threads follows an ongoing feud between Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter's Musk, which has seen heated exchanges and even the outrageous suggestion of a real-life mixed martial arts showdown in Las Vegas. As industry expert Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, aptly described, "The cage match has started and Zuckerberg delivered a major blow. In many ways, it's exactly what you'd expect from Meta: Stellar execution and an easy-to-navigate user interface."

In response to Threads' sudden rise, Twitter fired back by threatening to sue Meta, as reported by Semafor, a reputable publication. According to the letter delivered to Zuckerberg by a lawyer representing Twitter, the social media giant intends to take legal action against the emerging competitor. However, Twitter remained unavailable for immediate comment and Reuters could not independently verify the Semafor report. Notably, Meta firmly stated that none of its Threads engineering team members have any prior association with Twitter.

The chaotic decisions made by Musk after his acquisition of Twitter last year, coupled with alienation of users and advertisers, have paved the way for potential competitors to challenge the once-dominant social media platform. With its significant financial backing and access to Instagram's user base, Meta Platforms (META.O) emerges as a formidable contender. Experts and analysts emphasize that Meta's strategic timing in launching Threads could give it a fighting chance to dethrone Twitter. Niklas Myhr, professor of marketing at Chapman University, remarked, "Threads will be off to a running start as it is built upon the Instagram platform with its massive user base and if users adopt Threads, advertisers will be following closely behind."

Although other Twitter alternatives have emerged, they have seen limited success. Mastodon, a Twitter-like app, boasts 1.7 million monthly active users, as stated on its website, while Bluesky, backed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has accumulated around 265,000 users.

In contrast, Twitter had a significant user base of 229 million monthly active users in May 2022, before Musk's acquisition. While Threads operates as a standalone app, users can conveniently log in using their Instagram credentials. This integration makes it a seamless addition for Instagram's colossal user base, which exceeds 2 billion monthly active users.

Threads' launch is undeniably an initial foray into the market, currently lacking the advanced features synonymous with Twitter. Notably absent are hashtags, keyword search functions, direct messaging capabilities and a desktop version. Users, including prominent tech reviewer Marques Brownlee, have voiced the need for a feed limited to the people they follow, expressing concerns over the current lack of control over the main feed.

Despite its current limitations, Meta's CEO Zuckerberg, who already has a million followers on Threads, envisions the app evolving into a platform for public conversations involving over a billion users. However, monetization remains on the backburner until Threads achieves a substantial user base of 1 billion.

Given Meta's existing advertising relationships through Instagram and Facebook, these established partnerships are expected to fuel Threads' revenue growth. Pinar Yildirim, associate professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, asserts that Meta's extensive presence on Facebook makes it a more predictable and influential player in the advertising market compared to Twitter.

Industry analysts draw parallels between Threads' trajectory and Meta's previous successes in incorporating crucial features from platforms like Snapchat and TikTok. Instagram's Stories and Reels stand as shining examples. As a result, at least four brokerage firms have raised their price targets for Meta, whose shares have already more than doubled in value this year.

Following Threads' impending launch, Meta's shares experienced a modest decline of 0.2% on Thursday after a 3% surge the previous day.

  • Meta's Threads amassed over 30 million sign-ups within 18 hours of its launch, posing a serious challenge to Elon Musk's Twitter.

  • Threads, dubbed as the "Twitter-Killer," topped the free app charts in the UK and the US on Apple's App Store.

  • Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter's Musk engaged in a feud, with Meta executing Threads flawlessly.

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