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Threads downloads return to growth as X adds Walmart to its advertiser exodus

Recent efforts by Meta to grow Threads’ install base have been working. According to a new analysis of app store trends, Instagram Threads is now outpacing X, formerly Twitter, at least in terms of new downloads. App intelligence firm Apptopia indicates that, although Threads’ daily downloads had been declining since September, things have shifted in the opposite direction over the past week or so. Specifically, since Thursday, November 23, daily downloads have grown to 620,000 from around 350,000 in early November and around 1 million in early September.

While the firm estimates that Threads’ latest surge is likely due to Meta running ads for its new app, designed to offer a Twitter alternative, it still puts Threads ahead in terms of new downloads of its app compared with X.

Since September, X saw 27 million new downloads, compared with 41 million for Threads, for example, the firm reports. These metrics also include downloads of X’s app for emerging markets, Twitter Lite, which has not yet been renamed to X — and which may be picking up additional installs as app store users hunt for the app by its former name, “Twitter.”

Image Credits: Apptopia

What’s more, Threads’ gaining traction is coming from outside the U.S. The data indicates that the biggest driver of new downloads for Threads is India, accounting for 11.2% or 9.2 million of the new downloads. The U.S. was in second place, with 7.4% of downloads, or 6.1 million. This trend may not be surprising, as India has been the biggest growth driver for Instagram itself, Apptopia says.

Meanwhile, the biggest source for new downloads of X also isn’t the U.S. Instead, it’s Indonesia, followed by India. But combined, the U.S., Indonesia, and India added fewer new downloads for X than India alone added for Threads, the firm found.

Apptopia suggests that the loss of new downloads for X comes from the rebranding, which saw the app now called X losing a lot of momentum in terms of growth. In fact, in late September, X added the words “formerly Twitter” to its App Store description to help the app better rank in searches for the keyword “Twitter.” The move had followed a drop in weekly active users and rankings post-rebrand, as reported by another app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower at the time. It found that even as X’s ranking was dropping, the app “Twitter Lite” was gaining — likely because users were looking to download the app they knew as Twitter. This drove a spike in Twitter Lite installs, which jumped by around 350% in the first week of the rebranding, Sensor Tower said.

But now, even those misplaced installs are not helping X with regard to total new installs, when compared with Threads.

Still, X remains a larger platform than Threads — and one that has remained fairly sticky, keeping many of its old users from fully defecting to new platforms. X has over 500 million monthly active users, while Threads reported just under 100 million as of Meta’s most recent earnings in October. However, that’s a sizeable gain for an app that was only 3 months into its launch at the time. An independent tracker from Quiver Quantitative indicates that Threads had grown to 141 million users as of November 10th. 

Today, X’s future as a business is uncertain as it faces an advertiser exodus where major brands including Apple, IBM, Disney, Paramount, Comcast/NBCU, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, Sony, and, more recently, Paris Hilton’s 11:11 Media and Walmart, have pulled their campaigns from the platform. This came after X owner Elon Musk said to brands leaving the platform over his antisemitic posts to “go f*** yourself,” in a November 29th interview at The New York Times DealBook conference.

Despite these issues, X has proven itself as a place where news still regularly breaks as was seen with the OpenAI boardroom drama that took place prior to the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. While there was some discussion of the happenings on Threads, as there were across social media platforms, much of the main activity — like new announcements and messages to the OpenAI team — were posted on X. This came about because X is still the main platform for many news announcements and because Instagram head Adam Mosseri has said Threads wouldn’t amplify news, aiming to be a less real-time competitor to X. Last week, Mosseri also added that Threads’ search results also wouldn’t be chronological, saying that would create a “substantial safety loophole” as it would allow spammers and bad actors to gamify results by adding relevant words and tags.

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