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Twitter Announces Coming Removal of Separate TweetDeck App for Mac

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Twitter Announces Coming Removal of Separate TweetDeck App for Mac

Twitter’s taking the next steps towards making its new version of TweetDeck a subscriber-only option, by removing the Mac version of the app, in favor of the generic web dashboard.

As Twitter notes, it’s removing the Mac-specific version to focus on a single platform update – though as noted, the removal could also point to its development of a new paid version of the app, which would be accessible via Twitter itself, as opposed to being a separate tool.

Twitter’s been working on a new version of its tweet management app since last July, when it announced the first stage of beta testing for its ‘TweetDeck Preview’, which includes updated column layouts, multiple management decks, improved search tools and more.

Twitter’s added various new TweetDeck Preview additions since, including improved video playback in-stream. But along with that, there have also been hints that Twitter’s looking to make TweetDeck a paid option, likely built into its Twitter Blue offering.

Twitter hasn’t directly said that this is the way it’s headed, but it has also provided some indications.

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Last July, when the TweetDeck Preview beta was launched, then Twitter Product Chief Kayvon Beykpour made this note:

“We’re exploring how we can give people more customization and control using TweetDeck. We want to get feedback on how we can expand TweetDeck’s offerings for those who use it the most. We’ll take these lessons into account as we explore what TweetDeck could look like within Twitter’s subscription offerings later on. We’ll have more to share soon as we learn from these tests.”

So the indications are that, eventually, when it’s made generally available to everyone, users will have to pay to access the upgraded TweetDeck.

Which I’m not sure that many will do.

While the TweetDeck Preview looks interesting, there are no major, compelling new additions to the app’s functionality, nothing that would suddenly make it a ‘must have’ platform, and would justify the extra spend. Especially considering there are so many third-party platforms that offer similar tools. Twitter could make TweetDeck better than all of them, by incorporating all of their various functionalities, but thus far that doesn’t seem like the direction that Twitter’s looking to take with the new app.

That could, however, be a lucrative pathway for Twitter to consider. If it were to add significantly valuable business tools, like improved analytics, updated search tools (covering different elements of the app) and more competitor research options, it could likely charge significantly more than the current $3 per month for Twitter Blue, and businesses would pay.

Twitter scaled back its analytics tools in 2020, with the removal of its Audience Insights element, and it hasn’t added any alternative data options since. If it were to beef up these tools in a new business tier of its subscription offerings, that could be a valuable offering.

But the current TweetDeck Preview is little more than a re-shell of the current, free app. Which could make it a pretty hard sell – unless Twitter’s still looking to build in more before a bigger launch.

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But then again, Twitter doesn’t really seem to get this aspect, going on the Twitter Blue example at least. Undo tweets, new color options, NFT profile pictures, and a couple of other tools have sparked some interest, but they’re not really worth the monthly fee for the majority of users.

That’s why Twitter Blue’s not really moving the needle as yet. As the company noted in its Q1 2022 report, its subscription and other revenue elements brought in $94 million in the period – which actually represents a 31% decrease year-over-year.

Note that Twitter Blue was launched to US users in November last year, so really, based on early interest, Q1 should have seen close to maximum interest in the option.

Clearly, the things that Twitter deems valuable are not the same as what users are willing to pay for, which could mean that it is indeed going to go ahead with this updated version of TweetDeck as a paid offering.

Which seems like it’s getting closer to launch:

Will users care? Probably not, not unless Twitter has some big changes in store that it hasn’t yet added to the Preview as yet.

Maybe those are coming, but if they aren’t, I can’t see this being a big winner for the app as it works to meet its ambitious growth and revenue targets.

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TikTok Scales Back Live-Stream Commerce Ambitions, Which Could Be a Big Blow for the App

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TikTok Expands Test of Downvotes for Video Replies, Adds New Prompts to Highlight its Safety Tools

TikTok’s facing a significant reassessment in its business expansion plans, with the company forced to scale back its live eCommerce initiative in Europe and the US due to operational challenges and lack of consumer interest.

TikTok has been working to integrate live-stream shopping after seeing major success with the option in the Chinese version of the app. But its initial efforts in the UK have been hampered by various problems.

As reported by The Financial Times:

“TikTok had planned to launch the feature in Germany, France, Italy and Spain in the first half of this year, before expanding into the US later in 2022, according to several people briefed on the matter. But the expansion plans have been dropped after the UK project failed to meet targets and influencers dropped out of the scheme, three people said.”

TikTok has since refuted some of FT’s claims, saying that the reported timeline for its commerce push is incorrect, and that it’s focused on fixing problems with its UK operation before expanding, which is still in its roadmap. But the basis – that its program is not going as smoothly as planned – is correct. 

TikTok’s UK shopping push has also faced internal problems due to conflicts over working culture and management.

Last month, reports surfaced that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance had been imposing tough conditions on its UK commerce staff, including regular 12-hour days, improbable sales targets, and questions over entitlements.

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Now, it seems like the combination of challenges has led to a new growth dilemma for the app – which once again underlines the variance between Asian and western app usage trends.

Social media and messaging apps have become a central element of day-to-day life in several Asian countries, with apps like China’s WeChat and QQ now used for everything from purchasing train tickets to paying bills, to buying groceries, banking, and everything in between.

That spells opportunity for western social media providers, with Meta, in particular, looking to use the Chinese model as a template to help it translate the popularity of WhatsApp and Messenger into even more ubiquitous, more valuable functionality, which could then make them critical connective tools in various markets, solidifying Meta’s market presence.

But for various reasons, Chinese messaging trends have never translated to other markets.

Meta’s Messenger Bots push in 2016 failed to gain traction, and after its Messenger app became ‘too cluttered’ with an ever-expanding range of functionalities, including games, shopping, Stories, and more, Meta eventually scaled back its messaging expansion plans, in favor of keeping the app aligned with its core use case.

Meta then turned to WhatsApp, and making messaging a more critical process in developing markets like India and Indonesia. That expansion is still ongoing, but the signs, at present, don’t suggest that WhatsApp will ever reach the same level of ubiquity that Chinese messaging apps have.

Which then leads to TikTok, the world-beating short-form video app, which has seen massive growth in China, leading to whole new business opportunities, and even market sectors, based on how Chinese users have adapted to in-app commerce.

The Chinese version of TikTok, called ‘Douyin’, generated $119 billion worth of product sales via live broadcasts in 2021, an 7x increase year-over-year, while the number of users engaging with eCommerce live-streams exceeded 384 million, close to half of the platform’s user base.

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Overall, the Chinese live-stream commerce sector brought in over $300 billion in 2021. For comparison, the entire US retail eCommerce market reached $767 billion last year.

Given this, you can see why TikTok would view this as a key opportunity in other markets as well – but as noted, Chinese market trends are not always a great proxy for other regions.

The decision to scale back its eCommerce ambitions is a significant blow to TikTok’s expansion plans, not only from a broader revenue perspective (and worth noting, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance recently cut staff due to ongoing revenue pressures), but also in regards to revenue share, and providing a pathway for creators to make money from their efforts in the app.

Unlike YouTube, TikTok clips are too short to add mid and pre-roll ads, which means that creators can’t simply switch on ads to make money from their content. That means that they need to organize brand partnerships to generate income, and on Douyin, in-stream commerce has become the key pathway to exactly that.

Without in-stream product integrations as an option, that will significantly limit creator earnings capacity in the app, which could eventually see them switch focus to other platforms, where they can more effectively monetize their output.

Which may not seem like a major risk, but that’s exact what killed Vine, when Vine creators called for a bigger share of the app’s revenue, then switched to Instagram and YouTube instead when Vine’s parent company Twitter refused to provide such.

Could TikTok eventually face a similar fate?

TikTok, of course, is much bigger than Vine ever was, and is still growing. But limited monetization opportunities could end up being a big challenge for the app – while it also continues to face scrutiny over its impact on youngsters, and the potential for it to be used as a surveillance tool by the Chinese Government.

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In isolation, it may not seem like a major move, scaling back its eCommerce ambitions just slightly as it reassesses the best approach. But it’s a significant shift, which will slow down TikTok’s broader expansion. And it could end up hurting the app more than you, initially, would think.

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