What’s in a name change – X marks the spot

The change of Twitter’s bird logo – named Larry after the US basketball player Larry Bird might seem strange and the name change to simply X (owned by X Corp) a bit sinister.

But it is not just a name change or rebrand – Elon Musk’s plan is to build a ‘super app’ modelled on those now powering ahead in South Asia is emerging – and explains why Musk was prepared to fork out $44 billion to buy Twitter. The  implications are massive.

Twitter now X will no longer just be a messaging service, that is clear. Its future is now focused on being a ‘super app’ providing services including on-line retail, payment and delivery services, content provision and messaging.

Elon Musk dismantled Twitter and sacked 50% of of its worldwide staff while reducing moderation of its content, with the subsequent growth in fake news, rumours and abuse. It earned revenue for its ‘blue tick’ verification which was branded a gimmick, and limiting the number of messages Twitter users can read.

Super apps are now rampaging ahead in South Asia  including China’s WeChat and Moj, India’s PayTM, Indonesia’s Golek and Singapore’s Grab which now provide on-line shopping, booking tickets for gigs and events, booking taxis and ride services, making cashless payments, personal communications and booking parcel collection and delivery.

WeChat like Twitter, was originally a social media platform, but today it offers a wide range of services not just messaging but payment and many other services and has around 1.3 billion users in China alone. Estimates are they spend a third of their waking lives using the super app.

Dedicated Twitter users may be moving to Meta’s Threads platform but if Musk’s gamble  works the switch to the X super app will become dominant, leaving those without the technology or ability to afford it in the rear view mirror, the technologically left behinds creating bigger gap between the have and have nots.

There are also significant implications for jobs and job security, lines will be blurred. Pundits say to expect a growth in ‘one stop’ SME’s using the super app, but the acceleration of technology concentrated in the hands of one person is a frightening prospect.

As Louisa Bull Unite National Officer for the Graphical, Paper, Media & IT and Services Sectors says: “We have gone from the world of media ownership in the hands of a few to our minds and purchasing power being in the hands of a minority of extremely powerful influencers.”

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