If it wasn’t already significantly altered from its previous state, Twitter as you know it is about to be no more.
According to Twitter owner Elon Musk, he’s officially changing the name of the app from ‘Twitter’ to ‘X’, as part of his broader vision for an ‘everything app’ which will eventually facilitate a much broader range of functions, and ideally make X a key interactive component in billions of users’ lives.
Musk has already previewed the interim X branding, which he chose from a range of user-submitted concepts.
Musk has also flagged changing the app’s default color from blue to black, while tweets themselves will no longer be called such. Musk says they’ll be called an ‘x’.
Why would a company burn years of brand equity, especially when there’s seemingly no need (i.e. no negative association to distance itself from)?
The X name has been part of Musk’s grand plan since the late 90s, when he first started to make a name for himself in online payments. Musk had founded a payments company, which he envisioned would become ‘X.com’, a new platform that would facilitate not only instant, fee-free payments, but also loans, and other banking elements, all in one simplified, streamlined offering.
When his company merged with PayPal, however, his new partners didn’t agree with the X concept, and Musk eventually had to abandon his plan, and move into other ventures. But the idea, and name, has stayed with him, and Musk remains convinced that he can create a disruptive, game-changing app, which would use payments as its backbone to then facilitate all sorts of transactional activity, in addition to social media and entertainment elements.
Musk has repeatedly claimed that buying Twitter is ‘an accelerant to X’, but despite Musk’s long-standing hopes, actually making X happen is not going to be easy.
Because every other social platform has already tried the same. Meta, for example, has been working for years to make in-stream payments a thing, with limited success. The challenges here are that, for one, regulatory bodies are not overly keen to enable payments that side-step existing banking systems. At the same time, Western users have shown little interest in actually making payments, and buying products, within social apps.
Asian nations are in a different boat. Asian social media users have shown a strong preference for using apps as simplified payments and ID systems, which has also been pushed by some Asian governments as a means to better track citizen activity. Western governments don’t have the same transparency, or control over such, so while every social media company has sought to make a Western version of WeChat, it’s not as easy as just saying you want to do it, then making it a thing.
Though it may have been 24 years ago, when Elon first came up with the concept. It does seem like Elon has potentially missed the boat, but has remained dedicated to an idea that he has embedded in his mind, which is unlikely to come to fruition, no matter how he might try.
But try he will.
X is about to become the new Twitter, clearly delineating the next era for the platform, and distancing itself from its past.
Which seems like a flawed approach, which will only see the app lose more traction. But maybe Musk and Yaccarino have some new tricks up their sleeves, beyond pushing old Twitter concepts, that will make this fresh new angle something more than a billionaire’s pipe dream.
We’ll find out, with the X era now underway at the app.