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The everything app: Here's what we know about Musk's plans for X
At first glance, Elon Musk’s rebrand of Twitter to X appears to have been just as chaotic as many of his other changes to the app. It was inevitably the subject of much ridicule on his own site, the App Store wouldn’t initially allow him to change the app name to a single letter, and journalists still feel the need to refer to it as “X (formerly Twitter)” to avoid it looking like they just forgot to finish the sentence. But Musk is unphased. Will the entrepreneur have what it takes to reach his goal of developing the “everything app” that renders other apps obsolete?
We’ll explain what Musk is trying to do and how likely we think he is to succeed.
Why did Musk rebrand Twitter to X?
It’s a bold move, for sure. Not only was Musk’s acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion seen as a significant overpayment, much of the value that Twitter did have was in the brand. Twitter was recognized and used the world over, and it redefined “tweet” as a word. In changing the name to X and ditching tweets in favor of posts, Musk appears to have taken a torch to a significant amount of that brand value.
But the transformation of Twitter into X is more than just a change of name; it’s a manifestation of Musk’s long-standing vision. Before the world was taken aback by the rebranding, Musk had been dropping hints about his aspirations for the platform. Weeks before the Twitter acquisition, Musk suggested in a tweet that purchasing Twitter was a strategic move towards creating X, the “everything app” that goes well beyond a mere social media platform. As powerful as the Twitter brand may be, he clearly doesn’t see it as an appropriate name for an app that caters to multiple facets of the user’s digital life. It will always be associated with its communicative function.
A manifestation of Musk's long-standing vision.
So the name change was always on the cards, but why X? It’s probably fair to say that Musk is kinda obsessed with this name, and it isn’t even the first time he has tried to create X as a company. In 1999, he launched an online bank called X.com. His original vision for X.com was to turn it into a “one-stop everything-store for all financial needs.” This company eventually merged with Confinity and later became what we recognize today as PayPal. Musk tried to revive the X name during his time at PayPal but was unsuccessful. His aerospace manufacturer and space transportation company is named SpaceX, in which the X apparently stands for exploration. Since his rebranding of Twitter, X.com now redirects to Twitter.com.
Musk’s idea of turning Twitter into the next super app resonates with popular multifunctional platforms in Asia, such as WeChat in China. In a podcast interview last year, Musk emphasized the need for a super app in the US, suggesting that the country either needed to transform Twitter into one or start something entirely new. Drawing parallels with China, where residents rely heavily on WeChat for a plethora of daily tasks, Musk’s vision for X is to create a platform that integrates multiple functionalities, offering users a seamless and comprehensive digital experience.
What features can we expect to see from the everything app?
Musk’s ambition for X is to take it beyond the social interactions of Twitter and create a digital ecosystem. He envisions X as a “digital town square” where users can not only communicate but also perform a myriad of other tasks. From posting videos to making payments, Musk wants X to be a one-stop solution for digital needs.
Let’s take a look at some of the features we can expect to see if and when his vision has been fully realized. Some of these have already been alluded to by the tech magnate, while others are a natural progression we can expect from X.
The transformation to X seeks to usher in a new era of communication. While Twitter’s direct messaging system has been functional, X aims to elevate the experience. We can anticipate end-to-end encryption to reassure users about privacy and security. Furthermore, chats could become more dynamic, allowing for multimedia sharing and perhaps even voice or video calls. This would position X not just as a social media platform but also as a comprehensive communication tool in the style of Zoom or Skype.
Musk’s vision for X is to make it a hub of digital transactions on which users could seamlessly transfer money to peers or even businesses. While the specifics are yet to be unveiled, there’s potential for a built-in payment system, possibly integrating Musk’s affinity for cryptocurrencies — his name is synonymous with Dogecoin. Collaborations with third-party payment providers could offer users a host of other transaction methods, with the hope that X becomes a versatile financial tool.
Facebook has Marketplace. Instagram has Shopping. Elon wants in. The digital marketplace is booming, and X aims to carve its niche. Users might be able to list products, discover unique finds, and transact securely within the platform. Whether through a dedicated marketplace or direct user-to-user transactions, X could help to redefine e-commerce in Musk’s eyes, making buying and selling a social experience.
While Twitter has dabbled in live streaming, X is poised to take it to the next level. Enhanced features could include 360-degree streaming, allowing viewers a panoramic view of events. Real-time interactions could also be amplified, with viewers potentially influencing the content or engaging directly with streamers.
Virtual reality and augmented reality
The realms of VR and AR are already here and are getting more advanced each year. Elon won’t want to cede this virtual territory to the likes of Google, and X’s foray into these domains could revolutionize user interactions. Imagine attending a live concert through VR or using AR to preview products in the e-commerce section. The possibilities are vast, and X could be the platform that brings these experiences to the masses.
Fintech is reshaping the way we manage money. X’s potential integration with banking, investing, and other financial services could make it a one-stop shop for all financial needs beyond in-app payments. From checking account balances to making investment decisions, X could seamlessly blend social media with fintech, offering users a holistic experience.
When will we see the changes?
The transformation of Twitter into the finished product of X was never going to be an overnight affair. While Musk has been tight-lipped about specific timelines, his comments and the pace at which things have been moving hint at an aggressive roadmap. Statements like “Twitter probably accelerates X by three to five years” give us a glimpse into Musk’s ambitious plans.
Given Musk’s history with other ventures, where he has often fast-tracked projects and achieved milestones ahead of time, we probably won’t have to wait long to find out more. The swift metamorphosis of Twitter, a platform that has been around for years, into something as revolutionary as X promises to be is bound to run into stumbling blocks, but Musk won’t want to hang about now that his plans are clear. We’ll likely see new innovations every few months rather than every few years.
We’ve already seen a host of changes to the app since Elon took the reigns, with the two most notable probably being the changes to the Twitter Blue service, which included verification ticks being bought rather than earned, and the more recent name change. But we’ve also seen some initial financial elements being introduced. It is restricted to a revenue-sharing service with certain users so far, but it’s a sign of changes to come.
Will Musk successfully create an everything app?
This is the $44 billion dollar question. The tech landscape is littered with ambitious projects that never took off. But Musk’s endeavors have often bucked that trend, primarily due to his unwavering commitment and ability to think outside the box. The idea of an everything app isn’t new — tech giants like Mark Zuckerberg have previously harbored similar ambitions. But what sets Musk’s X apart is the clarity of vision and the lessons he can draw from both successes and failures of the past.
Several factors will determine X’s success, including user adoption, seamless integration of features, competition, and the platform’s ability to continually innovate. Musk may have overpaid for Twitter, but it did give him a huge headstart when it comes to adoption. Twitter had over 450 million users as of early 2023, and while many have been put off by Musk’s actions and the courting of controversial figures on the platform, alternatives like Instagram’s Threads app haven’t yet managed to provide an insurmountable threat to Musk’s vision.
The combined brand power of Twitter and Elon gives the latter a strong chance of creating an app in the mold of WeChat. Whether we’ll all be using it and even eschewing the majority of our other apps in favor of the various facets of X remains to be seen.
Everything app FAQs
When Elon Musk refers to an “everything app,” he’s talking about a platform that is not just a tool but an integral part of daily life, much like how some apps have become indispensable in other parts of the world. It’s about creating a digital ecosystem where users can live, work, play, and engage.
X.com currently redirects to Twitter, but that is likely to change at some point. We can expect that the URL will eventually become the home of everything related to the X app.