X is now calling itself a “video first platform”, despite the app not opening to a video feed, or having a dedicated video tab, or even having an easy to find stream of video clips.
That’s one of several revelations from a new overview of X’s roadmap for 2024, which includes a range of notes on the platform’s development throughout 2023, and how it’s setting itself up for the next stage of Elon Musk’s “everything app” plan.
Which increasingly looks set to be a significant challenge to enact, given declining revenue, and the required pace of development, with fewer dev resources on hand.
But nevertheless, that’s the plan, with X sharing a range of new stats on its current performance, including:
- 80% of user sessions now include video consumption, with over 100 million people consuming full-screen vertical video in the app every day
- In December alone, X says that users watched “130 years’ worth of videos 30 minutes or longer”
- Community Notes are being viewed over 50 million times a day, on average
- There are now over 350,000 communities on X, with around 650,000 community posts created daily
- X has paid over 80,000 creators thus far through its ads revenue sharing program
X also claims to have seen a 22% increase in total ad engagements, which would be some feat, given that it’s also lost 50% of its ad revenue due to Musk’s controversial stances and changes at the app.
But this is what X is claiming, though both Musk and X CEO Linda Yaccarino have made some questionable claims in the past.
Regardless, this is where X is currently placed. And with the new year now before us, X has also shared its key areas of development focus, as it looks to continue its transition away from Twitter, and into a whole new app category, all of its own.
Here’s what’s coming for the app:
A fundamental element of Elon’s “everything app” plan is payments, and facilitating cheap fund transfers in the app. This stems from Musk’s early days at PayPal, which is where he first came up with his “everything app” plan, which largely revolves around enabling users to essentially use the app as their bank, with all other functionality expanding from that.
On this front, X says that it will launch peer-to-peer payments this year “unlocking more user utility and new opportunities for commerce, and showcasing the power of living more of your life in one place”.
No one’s sure whether this is going to work, but X Corp is currently in the process of clearing the first hurdle, by applying for payment transmitter licenses in U.S. states.
X has now secured transmitter licenses in 14 states, though it still has a long way to go in reaching all of the required approvals to facilitate broader finance and transactional elements. Part of that will also come down to approvals from regulators, many of whom Musk has publicly criticized in the past, so the path for X isn’t going to be easy, and even Meta, which has been trying for years to facilitate payments, hasn’t been able to secure all of the required approvals and licenses to facilitate full payments in most regions.
But Elon believes that he has the experience and vision to make this happen, and it’ll be interesting to see whether X is able to move to the next stage of payments in 2024.
On a related front, X today announced a new deal with Shopify which will enable Shopify merchants to showcase their products in the app.
Another step towards Elon’s broader vision.
Improvements through AI
X also says that it will be looking to implement more AI solutions to enhance its ads, search tools, and more.
X has already jumped into the generative AI race with Grok, its AI chatbot, powered by X conversation. But beyond that, X is also looking to make industry-leading systematic improvements, based on AI, to customize and refine its various user experience elements.
“We will continue to show you more relevant and important content by enhancing our innovative “See Similar Posts” feature, powered by xAI. The upcoming “See Dissimilar Posts” enhancement will empower users to explore content that aligns with their interests or challenges their perspectives based on their past activity, improving the quality and balance of information they receive.”
Yeah, I’m, not sure that’s going to be a winner, and X’s insistence that Grok is a better chatbot because it utilizes X’s real-time data, and has a “sense of humor”, probably isn’t going to make it a major element of the X experience.
But Elon’s got beef with OpenAI, whom he once donated millions to, then tried to take over as its chief. That seems to be a key driver of Grok’s development, while the back-end AI elements could lead to meaningful changes in user experience, if X can get them right.
Essentially, Elon is confident that he’s going to be the best at AI. And if that proves true, then maybe X can glean significant benefit.
As a “video first platform” X is also going to need more original content, which it’s also investing in through new deals with former TV stars, including Tucker Carlson, Don Lemon, Jim Rome, and more.
Twitter also tried to incorporate TV-like content, many times, with limited success.
Conceptually, with Twitter/X being the top companion app for live TV discussion, the melding of the two makes sense, but try as it might, Twitter could never merge that “second-screening” behavior into its UI, even when it signed exclusive deals with various major sports leagues, and tried to become its own TV channel.
Though there does still seem to be opportunity there, and maybe, in the era of social apps as entertainment sources in themselves, as opposed to supplementary discussion platforms, X is now in a better position to enact this.
Thus far, its initial slate of stars haven’t been overly inspiring, but each of them are cult figures in their own right, who have millions of fans.
If these initial partners work out, that could attract more talent to the app, while X also continues to experiment with gaming broadcasts and live streams.
Aside from looking to enhance its ad systems with AI, which will ideally help to maximize relevance in ad delivery, X is also looking to re-shape its ad process around video content, while also implementing more brand safety elements.
The latter will be the big focus, with many advertisers pulling out of X, or reducing their ad spend, due to Elon Musk’s changes at the app.
Though a lot of the current hesitance from advertisers comes down to Musk himself, and his continued public statements on divisive issues. Musk is often misinformed, and quick to assess situations without all the facts at hand, which has led to various instances of Musk sharing ill-informed opinions on hot button topics.
And that’s only likely to get worse in an election year, with Musk already putting his support behind Republican candidates, and even seeking to involve himself in certain issues. Elon has also repeatedly stated that he’s going to continue to say what he wants, whether it costs him money or not, but it’s actually costing X, more so than Elon himself.
Essentially, X is going to have a big challenge ahead of it to convince ad partners that it’s a trusted, viable platform for ad spend. But if it can get more people using the app, the advertisers will come, so in full scope, the X plan could still work to boost ad intake.
There are a lot of questions about Elon’s X project, and a lot of unresolved issues that will remain problematic for the app moving forward, while many of these new initiatives will face significant challenges, as noted.
But maybe, Elon is an actual genius. Maybe, that game of 4D chess that some believe he’s playing will pay off, and actually, at some point, X will cross a threshold and become a more viable platform once again.
It’s hard to see it right now, as Elon continues to implement unpopular changes, and base his actions on spite and angst, as opposed to what’s best for the company.
But maybe, Elon is some kind of visionary, beyond what anyone else can see.