WhatsApp could be slowly destroying one of the biggest and most prominent brands in social media: Twitter. The available statistics prove that not only is WhatsApp far popular than Twitter but it is growing at a much faster rate.
Numbers provided by Statista show that WhatsApp has around 900 million active users worldwide, while Twitter has around 316 million. That means WhatsApp is now almost three times larger than its rival, even though Twitter has been around longer; Twitter started in 2006, while WhatsApp debuted in 2009.
What’s truly interesting is the rate at which WhatsApp is growing compared to Twitter. Information collected by Geek Crunch Reviews shows that the rate at which Twitter has been growing is steadily falling. In early 2013 Twitter was growing at a rate of around 45%, yet by June 2015 it was growing at a rate of less than 20%.
At the same time, WhatsApp’s growth rate was accelerating. Data provided by Statista show that WhatsApp gained 100 million active users between April and September 2015, Empresa-Journal reported . That means WhatsApp was adding around 20 million active users a month.
Is WhatsApp Stealing Users from Twitter?
It looks as if WhatsApp has been gaining users at a steady rate. This rate of growth also raises an interesting question for Twitter: Is WhatsApp taking users away from Twitter, and if so, how many?
That question can be hard to answer because there are undoubtedly some people who use both WhatsApp and Twitter. To make matters worse, some people who switch services may not cancel their accounts, meaning that they could be registered as Twitter users even after they have abandoned the social messaging application.
Twitter has certainly suffered from this situation. Its stock price has fallen dramatically over the past year. On January 7, 2015, Twitter was trading at $37.28 a share; by January 8, 2016, it was trading at $19.98 a share.
That means Twitter has lost nearly half its value in a year. The situation is fairly pathetic because at one point Twitter stock was trading at prices of around $60 a share.
Twitter Is Losing Money While Facebook Is Making It
It is also easy to see why Twitter’s stock price is so low. The company is not making any money, according to data provided by YCharts. Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) reported a net income of -$556.15 million on September 30, 2015. That means the company lost $556.15 million, a little over a half a billion dollars.
To make matters worse, Twitter reported a free cash flow of -$4.808 million, meaning it was losing money on its operations. Not only is Twitter having a difficult time attracting users but it has not been able to generate any cash off the users it has attracted.
Okay, to be fair, WhatsApp loses money too, but it is part of a larger company, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), that makes a lot of money. Facebook reported a net income of $2.828 billion and a free cash flow of $1.412 billion on September 30, 2015. That means Facebook made nearly $3 billion while Twitter lost over half a billion.
Not surprisingly, Facebook’s stock was trading at $97.41 a share on January 8, 2016. That made for an increase of nearly $20 a share from January 8, 2015, when it was trading at $78.17 a share.
Twitter Getting Desperate
The financial numbers show us that Twitter’s business model does not seem to be working, and Twitter seems to know it. The blog Recode reported that Twitter was considering abolishing its famed 140-character limit for tweets.
The reason for this seems to be to allow for more data to be sent out through Twitter; in other words, to make it more like WhatsApp, which allows people to transmit huge amounts of data, including documents and news. Another reason could be to add advertising and other potential money-generating content for Twitter, perhaps to let people send out fiction or even videos and charge for them.
According to the CBC , Twitter is planning to adapt its service so that large files can be embedded within the tweets. The most likely reason for that is to send out news and other large files. The most likely purpose for that change would be to allow the sending of large files, such as magazines or newspapers, over Twitter in order to charge subscriptions for them.
Interestingly enough, Twitter users were very hostile to the idea of large tweets, possibly because it changes the short and simple format the service currently uses. The CBC reported that large numbers of them voiced their displeasure with the idea by sending out negative tweets.
Is Twitter Becoming More Like WhatsApp?
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has apparently backed down somewhat and said the service is merely a means to add large files to Twitter—in other words, yet another scheme to make it more like WhatsApp.
Obviously Dorsey and company would not be trying to make Twitter more like WhatsApp unless they thought there was a need for it. My guess is that large numbers of Twitter users are moving to WhatsApp because they like the ability to send large files, including videos, pictures, and documents, through a messaging service.
Social media seems to be evolving beyond just messages, and social media services are increasingly becoming platforms. WhatsApp is at the cutting edge of this trend by providing a world platform that allows people to send information to anybody that has a smartphone.
The executives at Twitter are afraid they’re getting left behind and that they will soon be losing large numbers of customers to WhatsApp. They’re trying to head off the losses by imitating WhatsApp, a strategy that may not work because WhatsApp already has a much better reputation with users.
Therefore, one has to wonder if it is not a matter of time before Twitter collapses and gets bought up by a competitor, perhaps by Facebook, which already owns WhatsApp and Instagram as well as Facebook Messenger. Twitter would certainly be a good addition to Facebook’s staple of social media brands.
It looks as if WhatsApp is actually killing Twitter; the once popular social media service seems unable to compete in today’s world of social media.