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Twitter prunes video app Vine to see off threat from Facebook

Is the social media site ripe for a takeover, asks Katie Wright

Published 05/11/2016

A table tennis international was watched by almost 2.3million on Facebook
A table tennis international was watched by almost 2.3million on Facebook

Rumours had been circulating for months. Ever since figures in February revealed that user growth had flatlined, triggering its share price to plummet by 10%, analysts have been speculating that major changes were afoot at Twitter.

So, it didn't come as a huge surprise when the social network revealed last Thursday that it would be slashing 9% of its global workforce after slowing revenue growth and the news that several potential takeover attempts had stalled.

The announcement came alongside earnings reports which showed revenue had actually jumped by 8% in the three months to September, but that's a steep fall compared to the previous quarter's 20% rise.

Similarly, the company reported a $102m net loss - an improvement on the $130m loss at the same time last year. And later the same day, a post on blogging site Medium signalled that Twitter would be closing Vine - the six-second video-sharing site beloved of would-be comedians and pranksters - which it purchased in 2012.

The job cuts will see around 350 staff affected, similar to the number dismissed a year ago, with the company aiming to reach profitability next year.

"We have a clear plan, and we're making the necessary changes to ensure Twitter is positioned for long-term growth," chief executive Jack Dorsey said.

"The key drivers of future revenue growth are trending positive and we remain confident in Twitter's future."

But does anyone else? The microblogging site celebrated its 10th birthday this year - a noteworthy milestone in the mercurial world of online tech - but in the last few years it's been besieged by other social media sites. At the top end of the market there's Facebook with its 1.7 billion monthly active users, which now has live video streaming, and Instagram (500 million users), which has rolled out short videos and, more recently, a feature called Stories which, it admits, was copied directly from ephemeral messaging service Snapchat.

Snapchat itself lags behind in terms of users, with 200 million a month versus Twitter's 313 million, but its phenomenal growth stats mean it's on course to overtake its rival in the next few years.

If Instagram video was the death-knell for Vine, does Facebook Live spell the end for Periscope, the live streaming app Twitter bought in 2015?

Arguably, many users prefer Facebook for communicating with friends and people they know, whereas Twitter and Instagram are public-facing, so if Instagram unveiled live streaming, investors should really be worried.

In the meantime, Twitter has been experimenting in America with live streaming football (not soccer) games and the recent presidential debates, but experts aren't optimistic that this will turn around the beleaguered site's fortunes.

Users are fickle and while they're quick to try something new, they're even quicker to ditch it when it's no longer useful, or fun (remember MySpace?), meaning that for social networks, it's become something of a zero-sum game.

And in this race for domination, it looks like Twitter is fighting a losing battle.

Belfast Telegraph

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