Twitter bakes Periscope functionality into the main app, but it's already too late

Twitter has announced that it will now allow its users to go live straight from the Twitter app rather than restrict them to the Periscope app.

Twitter has announced that it will now allow its users to go live straight from the Twitter app rather than restrict them to the Periscope app. Earlier you had to go to the Periscope app to start Live streaming and later, Twitter added a button to make that switch easier. Why Twitter thought that this was a sensible way of implementing the feature is beyond me.

At least the company's seeing sense now, but given its impact on users, now might already be too late.


App confusion

Facebook, the current leader in the live videos space already has the functionality baked into the main app. Even though Facebook has several different products, these separate products do not segregate the way you post and consume the content with people on your timeline. The company has found a balanced way to segregate different types of interactions to add features to the separate apps and keeping the core functionality together.

One interesting thing to note is that Facebook launched the Live services in August 2015, 7 months after Twitter acquired Periscope. Twitter just couldn't find a way to capitalise on that lead.

Maintaining two different apps for interacting with your followers while maintaining two separate social graphs is probably one of the main reasons that people did not embrace periscope. Also, when you consider that the average smartphone user barely uses 10 apps, getting that user to install yet another app is simply not practical.

Users want a well-streamlined app instead of a disjointed experience. A streamlined experience will also help the audience discover the feature more easily and they'll be more willing to try a feature that's already baked into something they regularly use. To provide perspective, about 75 percent of Facebook videos are viewed on mobile, so it is imperative to give extra attention to how you go about developing an app.

Problems beyond

Periscope did not have its own user base and it relied on Twitter users to help build its userbase for the scratch. It didn't help that the two apps provided a vastly different social experience, not when the two apps were so heavily reliant on each other. Users had to focus on one app or the other, rather than look at Periscope and Twitter as a holistic experience. This was a misstep on Twitter's part.

Considering that the company believes video, particularly live video, to be the future of the platform, this design misstep and Twitter's lethargy in fixing the error cost them dearly.

The company needed Periscope to be that fresh infusion of blood that it needed to rejuvenate itself and win back users. If nothing else, Twitter would have at least seemed a bit more delectable to potential bidders like Salesforce, Apple and Google. But nothing materialised and Twitter didn't win back users or gain traction.

Twitter also placed little emphasis on developing countries, ignoring the data footprint that periscope would have and not seeing the potential for growth in such places. Facebook saw the potential here, and that's why we have things like Facebook Lite. In fact, I believe that people in developing countries like India are more receptive to change and new features.

Twitter's decision and lethargy didn't help either product in the long run and publications like TechCrunch have called out Twitter for this slack attitude, especially when it was the market leader in the live streaming space for so long.

If Twitter hopes to succeed, it needs to take a few pages out of Facebook's handbook and learn to innovate quickly and intelligently.

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