Threads widens the gap with X, with triple the daily downloads on iOS


Although an app’s downloads aren’t an exact proxy for usage, they can hint at where the market is headed. And in the case of the alt-Twitter wars, the app winning the game right now is Instagram’s Threads. Meta’s take on Twitter now sees triple the daily downloads of X (formerly Twitter) on iOS globally, and more than double the number — and sometimes more than triple — the number of installs on Google Play.

This wasn’t always the case. Threads, of course, saw a massive spike in new installs following its summer 2023 public launch, but in the months since, downloads would often spike and drop as parent company Meta tried various strategies to send more traffic to its new app, like showcasing popular Threads within the timelines of its other apps, Facebook and Instagram. But as boosts from these early efforts wore off, Threads’ downloads would drop, returning once again to become neck-and-neck with X installs, particularly on iOS, according to data from Appfigures.

Image Credits: Appfigures

However, things began to change near the end of last year.

By late December, Threads was seeing more than half a million installs per day on Google Play and iOS. The latter has since fallen a bit during the month of January but, across both platforms, Threads now consistently sees more daily downloads than X and appears to now be widening that gap.

For example, on February 25, 2024, Threads saw 486,803 installs on Google Play and 342,228 on iOS. X, by comparison, saw 225,408 Google Play downloads and 112,625 on iOS, Appfigures data shows. That’s nearly triple the downloads on iOS for Threads and more than double the downloads on Google Play.

past 90 days

Image Credits: Appfigures

Only a few days prior, on Feb. 22, the gap was even wider. Then, Threads had 382,999 daily installs on iOS versus just 113,649 installs of X on the same platform — or more than triple. Threads’ Google Play downloads were 660,882 at this time, versus just 210,475 for X on the Play Store — also more than triple.

Though Threads’ daily install rates still rise and fall, they’re now consistently above X’s. Over time, this change could eventually come to play out across monthly active users, as well. If that were the case, then Threads would become the main microblogging platform of choice for most users, despite Twitter’s longtime lead in this space. What’s more, it would mean Meta has more editorial control over the information-sharing and news ecosystem used by journalists, researchers, academics, news junkies, and others — and Meta has said it won’t amplfiy news on Threads and won’t recommend political content.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Threads had 130 million monthly active users (MAUs) as of the company’s fourth quarter. Those numbers have surely inched higher in the weeks since. Instagram head Adam Mosseri says the Threads app is doing “remarkably well” in Japan, for instance — a market where Twitter had strong traction.

While X said it had 500 million monthly active users as of last fall, it’s unclear how many of those are automated accounts or spam. As TechCrunch reported last month, X appears to have a Verified bot problem, where a number of blue-checked, paid accounts accidentally revealed their source by replying to X posts with some variation of “I’m sorry, I cannot provide the requested feedback as it goes against OpenAI’s content policy”  — a boilerplate response for the AI. A search for the same query, here on X, reveals the problem is ongoing.

Though Threads is not immune to this issue, more people appear to posting this phrase organically on Meta’s platform as a joke to their followers.

In part, X’s troubles with new installs could be related to its rebranding from Twitter. Though month-over-month downloads are up by a bit in December and January, they’re still much lower than before the rebranding, Appfigures points out. Threads’ revenue is also up slightly in January compared with the month prior, but the firm estimates February’s revenue will be lower.

 

x installs

Image Credits: Appfigures

x revenue

Image Credits: Appfigures

As for the decentralized X alternatives, like Mastodon’s official mobile app and the newly public Bluesky, they barely register in the face of this competition, appearing as largely flat lines on the download chart. To be fair, Mastodon has a wide third-party app ecosystem, but in total, its network is hovering around 1 million monthly active users at this time, per its own first-party data.

Bluesky also saw a small pop when it opened its doors to the public earlier this month, but its momentum has since faded. On its biggest day (Feb. 7 — the day after its launch), it saw 79,685 installs on iOS and 55,711 on Google Play — nowhere near Threads’ or X’s numbers. Still, it’s early days for this social network, which also just opened up federation — where anyone can run their own Bluesky server. So it’s possible it will gain traction over time as a decentralized Twitter/X alternative. 





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