Nov 8, 2022 - Technology

Musk's Twitter chaos opens door for challengers

Global downloads of select social media apps
Data: Apptopia; Chart: Axios Visuals

Downloads of Twitter's app have grown steadily in the first week since Elon Musk became the company's owner, but other apps — particularly Mastodon, a distributed open-source service — are starting to gain traction, too, as users begin to experiment with alternatives.

Why it matters: That competitive pressure is clearly irking Musk, who tweeted, and then deleted, a series of lewd tweets about Mastodon on Monday.

  • Unlike competition in electric cars or spacecraft, software companies can very quickly seize market share from rivals. Users can download a new social app instantly, and usually for free.

Details: Daily downloads of Mastodon, a social media app that works something like Twitter but with a chronological feed and no central server, have exploded since Musk took over Twitter, according to new data from Apptopia.

  • Between Oct. 27 and Nov. 6, daily downloads of the app increased from 3,400 to 113,400.
  • Mastodon's founder Eugen Rochko said in a Mastodon post Monday that it now has more than 1 million monthly active users, having added a whopping 489,003 new users since Oct. 27, when Musk bought Twitter.

The big picture: Musk's messy transition as Twitter's new owner has been met with both outrage and excitement. The chaos has been good for the app's user numbers, but bad for its revenue.

  • The Apptopia data suggests Twitter's global downloads have increased slightly since Musk took over, averaging roughly 571,000 downloads daily.
  • For the full year preceding the purchase, Twitter was averaging around 350,000-450,000 downloads per day.
  • Meanwhile, a new report suggests that Twitter's active user growth has also accelerated since Musk took over. According to internal documents obtained by The Verge, Twitter is telling sales staff that it has added more than 15 million monetizable daily active user (mDAU) since the end of the second quarter.

Yes, but: Advertisers are slowing or pausing their Twitter buys as companies grow frustrated with Elon Musk's moves.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that Twitter's 350,000-450,000 download average is for the full year preceding Musk's purchase.

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