Just two weeks after its debut, Threads, the text-based social media platform created by Meta to compete with Twitter, now known as X, experienced a startling fall in the number of daily active users in Korea.
Following more than 100 million signups, Threads has lost more than half of its members globally, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who called the regression natural and promised to provide additional features to keep users interested.
After TikTok's debut in 2016, the app has emerged as the first notable social media platform.
Because Threads will eventually make use of a decentralized system, one of its promises is that it will provide users more choice over their privacy and platform allegiance than Facebook and Instagram.
According to experts, Threads' design alone was sufficient to draw the attention of global social media users as a novel app, but its main feature of linking to Instagram, which has more than 2 billion users globally, as the gateway to access quickly, brought people to the service.
They also determined that the app's release was appropriate given the growing number of complaints about X since Tesla CEO Elon Musk gained control of the platform.
The fastest-growing app quickly slows down
According to Zuckerberg, Threads crossed the 100 million user mark in just five days.
The text-based chat app from Instagram surpassed OpenAI's ChatGPT, which accomplished the feat in two months, to become the fastest-growing app in history.
TikTok, a China-owned video streaming service, only nine months to reach that milestone after its introduction, whereas Instagram and X took approximately 30 and 65 months, respectively.
While Threads has been successful in luring initial members, the question is how many daily active users can it continue to add.
Within a week of its inception, Threads in Korea saw a daily decline in the number of daily active users.
On July 11, the number of actual users reached a peak of 258,453, however the number marginally decreased the next day to 252,289 users.
The number decreased to 102,062 on July 25, three weeks after the introduction, according to the projected statistics gathered by a local market research company called Mobile Index.
On July 7 there were 130,628 app downloads for iOS and Android devices.
On July 25 there were only 3,337. On July 7, local mobile users spent an average of 9.78 minutes on the text-based social networking platform.
By July 25, that time had practically been slashed in half, to 5.82 minutes.
This indicates that Threads is struggling to attract users and keep them using the program.
Some well-known individuals in Korea have joined the network since its introduction, but trend-conscious influencers and celebrities here don't seem to be using it very much.
Among the first people to utilize Threads were politicians and business moguls including Chung Tae-young, vice chairman of Hyundai Card, and Chung Yong-jin, vice chairman of Shinsegae Group.
Significant conglomerates opened accounts as well, including Nongshim, Hyundai Motor, and Samsung Electronics.
X's rival or the following Clubhouse
Experts disagree on whether Threads can expand in the Korean market because the software is still in its early phases.
However, they claimed that for the app to succeed in this market and become a major social media network, it needs novel features that set it apart from competitors X and Instagram and keep users interested in the app.
The Korea Herald was informed by DS Investment & Securities analyst Jang Ji-hye that Threads' distinct advantages over Twitter are currently "invisible."
We need to wait and see the upgrades, but Meta will convert Threads to an open platform and keep adding functionality.
However, the recent announcements from TikTok about text-only posts and Twitter's rebranding as X may be factors (that might decrease app usage)," she continued.
According to Lee Hun-yul, a professor at Korea University's School of Media and Communication, it is doubtful that multiple users of X will utilize Threads simultaneously to connect with one another because the total amount of time that people spend using social media platforms is constrained.
But given that X is mostly utilized in Korea by individuals with distinct political ideologies and K-pop fandoms, it is unclear whether Threads will be able to replace a sizable portion of X's user base, he added.
"Given the numerous modifications Elon Musk is making to X, it's also possible that paid services will be improved in order to increase X's revenue.
In order to distinguish itself from competitors and draw in new customers, Meta will also be closely monitoring these changes, the professor stated.
The experts noted that another factor in Thread's popularity is how much it differs from Instagram, which focuses on photographs and videos, and how much information it offers.
According to Jeon Seong-min, a professor of business administration at Gachon University, Korean users prefer other media that focus on photographs and videos more than text-based social media platforms since the younger generation, between the ages of 18 and 29, makes up the majority of users.
Instagram has drawn more users as a result of the "network effect," which is caused when more young users stick with the platform and it starts to become a destination for others.
According to Jeon, Instagram's text-based program will take off in this country if it can win over the hearts of youthful people.
In May of this year, Statista, a German data analysis website, said that there were 7.4 million and 8.1 million Instagram users, respectively, between the ages of 18 and 24 and 25 and 34.
According to some experts, Clubhouse, an audio-based social networking service that experienced enormous growth during the COVID-19 pandemic and was able to attract Korean users as well, may have the similar fate for Threads.
Clubhouse was formerly very popular, but this changed as voice-based communication features were added to other social networking sites, such X and Facebook.
Formerly a frequent Clubhouse user, Shinsegae Chairman Chung recently said on Threads that he will shortly be deleting the Threads app.
Threads isn't enjoyable. Nothing distinguishes it from Instagram. It's difficult to understand," he wrote in the essay.