What if, when you woke the next day, Twitter was no longer present on your phone and, in its place, a strange ‘X’ icon appeared?
That would be odd, wouldn’t it? The Twitter name has developed years of brand value, and phrases like “Twitter” and “tweets” are now, to a considerable extent, known globally as to what they represent. No company would pass up on that kind of brand resonance and familiarity. Right?
With Elon Musk increasing his mentions of “X,” his evolving vision for an “everything app,” which so far appears to involve in-stream payments, a stronger emphasis on video content, and a variety of other potential functionalities, including job listings, dating elements, etc., this may actually happen very soon.
In interviews, Musk is now referring to the firm as “X slash Twitter” and making hints about a name change for the app since, in his opinion, Twitter 2.0’s larger goals go beyond the confines of the “Twitter” brand.
Even Twitter employees are using the ‘X’ name.
So what does ‘X’ mean?
Elon really developed the X idea in 1999, the same year he started his first online banking firm, X.com.
Confinity, a different fintech firm, and X.com subsequently merged to create a new company named PayPal; however, that name wasn’t given to the new company until after Musk had been fired as CEO owing to differences about the company’s future course. Among the many disagreements, Musk insisted that the new company remain in the name X.com since he, presumably, had far grander intentions for it.
Since then, Musk has clarified that in his opinion, PayPal still represents a ‘halfway version’ of what is possible with online payments and transactions. His goal with X was to make it possible for a wider variety of use cases and commercial prospects, beginning with payments and branching out into just about any other kind of transactional interaction you can think of.
Musk essentially saw X.com as the Western equivalent of WeChat, the popular Chinese messaging app that has grown to serve billions of Chinese users. individuals may use their WeChat credentials to make payments, facilitate transactions, pay bills, buy groceries, and buy railway tickers. In other words, WeChat functions as a personal digital barcode that connects individuals to the larger Chinese economy.
And although many others have tried and failed to create a Western equivalent of the same, Musk has clung to his own hopes that X.com will realise this, which is now what he views as the future of Twitter and the next crucial development for the app.
Twitter is heading in the direction of ‘X’, much like Meta’s metaverse, and both the original Facebook and Twitter brand names will ultimately become meaningless.
Would doing that be wise?
Well, there’s no way to know. As was said, a number of platforms have made an effort to establish a foothold in the digital economy through their applications and grow as larger payment and transaction facilitators. However, the concept hasn’t yet found favour with Western viewers.
The most obvious example is Meta. Back in 2016, Meta put a lot of effort into expanding Messenger’s features in an attempt to turn the app into a “Western WeChat.” However, users just wanted to send messages using the app; they weren’t interested in making payments, playing games, or really doing anything else. As a result, Meta finally had to cut down their functionality push in favour of reducing the Messenger UI to its most basic form.
Since then, Meta has turned its attention to WhatsApp and emerging countries. With a particular focus on payments, Meta is trying to increase the usefulness of WhatsApp in India and Indonesia.
However, getting regulatory clearance in every area has delayed the process, and consumers are still overwhelmingly sceptical that this is the best course of action for their future transactions. Even if facilitating remittances is an important first step, Meta has spent more than ten years transforming WhatsApp into a more useful service in India and is still trying to forge the required contacts with Indian authorities.
So, despite the fact that there is an obvious potential for this strategy, nobody has yet been able to implement it successfully. And once more, there is little evidence to suggest that Western consumers would genuinely want to perform more in-stream transactions, even if you could obtain the required permissions.
Another example is shopping in real-time. In China, live transactions generated about 3.5 trillion yuan ($494 billion) in sales last year alone. However, despite their best efforts, TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube, and Meta have yet to be able to make live shopping popular in countries outside of China. This is likely due to Western viewers’ lower interest levels than Chinese audiences.
That’s just another sign that certain trends just don’t work out, which might put Musk’s aspirations for an “everything app” in trouble.
The X.com platform will also include Elon’s ongoing X.ai project, a generative AI system meant to compete with OpenAI and Google’s DeepMind offerings. However, it appears that Elon will give it a huge push nonetheless.
It’s an ambitious strategy that will require many things to go well in order for it to succeed, but Elon seems to excel at ambitious initiatives, so if anybody can bring all of these factors together, Elon may be the greatest hope.
However, it’s also possible that X.com, which is expected to be the bigger offering and include tweets (or whatever name they come up with next), is the end of Twitter as you know it.
If the puzzle parts can’t be put together properly, it will either make Twitter far more relevant or cause it to disappear.
It’s crazy to consider that Twitter could not be around for very long, yet as time goes on, ‘X’ will likely be mentioned a lot more.