It seems that X’s experiment with charging all users $1 to create an account hasn’t had a major impact on app downloads in the two test regions.
Well, in relative terms at least.
As you can see in this chart, via app analysis provider Sensor Tower, while X has declined in the overall app rankings over the last three months, since it began its $1 “Not a Bot” sign-up test in New Zealand, it’s still been relatively stable in the overall download figures for the region.
X initially announced its scheme to charge $1 for all new users if they want to engage in the app back on October 17th, with new account sign-ups in both New Zealand and the Philippines required to pay a small, annual fee to engage in the app.
Based on this chart, X was ranked 77th in overall downloads on October 17th, when the test begun, then it dropped to 89th the day after. Which may have been in reaction to the change, but since then, X has fluctuated in the NZ app charts. It’s currently the 91st most downloaded app in the region, which is notable drop from 77th, but still, X downloads haven’t tanked completely as a result of the shift.
It’s actually been the opposite in the Philippines, with X downloads on iOS increasing since the test began, going from 70th on the iOS download charts on October 17th, to 32nd today.
Similar trends are reflected in the Google Play Store charts for both regions, with NZ Android downloads remaining relatively stable, and Philippines downloads increasing. Android is the dominant OS in the Philippines, so those stats are likely more indicative. X has moved up 50 spots in the free app rankings on Android in PH, from 190 at the start of November, to 140 this week.
The numbers are seemingly a good sign for X’s push to make more people pay for the app, but then again, users can still download and use the app for free in both regions, with the $1 payment only coming into play if users want to post, or interact with other posts in the app.
And when you also consider that 80% of all X users never post anything at all, it may not actually be that big of a hurdle for usage, with most people likely to just opt out of engaging instead of paying up.
Still, the numbers don’t reflect a significant swing away from the app as a result, and it’d be interesting to also get insight from X as to how many people are actually paying the new $1 annual fee (note: the $1 fee is not listed as a top 10 purchase in either region in Sensor Tower’s app overviews).
The principle here does make some sense, in that charging for an active profile could make it more cost-prohibitive for bot peddlers to operate in the app. But more sophisticated bot operations will likely just build the fee into their costs, while the alternative motivation is likely for X to get more users connecting their bank details to the app, with a view to its future push into payments, commerce, etc.
I don’t think that charging all users is the optimal way to capitalize on the app’s opportunities, nor is it a broad-scale solution to combat bots, but I do understand X’s motivation, and its attempts to try new things to battle bots.
And maybe, based on these figures at least, there could be some merit to the initiative.