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The Future of Twitter's Mobile App: What Do the Numbers Say?

When Twitter recently made its highly anticipated debut as a publicly traded company, the micro-blogging website boasted a 72% first-day gain that pushed its value up to $25 billion. The initial success of Twitter’s IPO provoked a buzz among journalists, industry analysts and the general public about how the company will deploy its new capital.

The seven-year-old company currently has 230 million users around the globe, and predictions about how it will continue to fuel its growth have been all across the board. One particularly interesting factor in determining its direction is seeing how it compares to competitors in the mobile application space, which is an increasingly competitive landscape.

Twitter is currently viewed as a leading social media application, but its competition is growing rapidly. Messaging, micro-blogging, social messaging and photo- and video-sharing applications are all competing for users’ screen time and mind share.

Due to the increasingly competitive social media application space, we at mobile analytics provider Mobidia thought it would be interesting to research mobile usage data that profiles Twitter’s market position and growth relative to other social media apps, such as Snapchat, Instagram and Vine. Although Twitter has accumulated far more users than its competitors, the percentage of users who are actually active paints a more accurate picture of where Twitter stands among its competition.

From January to October 2013 Mobidia collected data on a strictly anonymous and optional basis from millions of users who downloaded Mobidia’s smartphone application, My Data Manager. The data sample represents smartphone users from all major global geographies. What our data says about the actual usage of these popular social media apps indicates that Twitter might have some tough competition.

Mobidia’s mobile analytics data shows that Twitter’s mobile usage may be flattening while its’ competitors mobile usage is increasing. The number of active Android Twitter application users remained at 19 percent of our sample, while the number of Instagram users grew from 22 to 25 percent and the number of Snapchat users grew from 7 to 18 percent. At the same time the number of active monthly Vine for Android users increases slightly in the application’s first five months of availability.

We found that during the same time period average monthly minutes of use of the Android Twitter application in the U.S. dropped from 73 to 65 minutes per user while average monthly minutes of use for Instagram grew from 88 to 98 minutes per user.

Twitter clearly has some tough competition in the mobile application space, but now it has the opportunity to gain more ground by applying its new capital. Messaging apps with features offering a higher fidelity experience such as themes, photos, and videos seem to growing the fastest, and the modest growth of Twitter’s own Vine app appears to support that. Incorporating more of these features into Twitter’s core mobile app could be a promising opportunity for growth. But where Twitter will actually end up applying its new capital and whether it will be enough to compete with other social media applications is still hard to say.

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