The big picture: Concerns about Twitter / X's future since Elon Musk's takeover have sparked a competition over who can build a better microblogging service. Although X hasn't died, analysis shows that by at least one metric, Meta's alternative Threads is gaining on it.

Data from Appfigures shows Meta's Threads app has significantly more daily downloads than X over the past several weeks. Although app downloads don't paint the complete picture, the gap could be widening.

Since Elon Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion and began making significant changes, multiple scares have left observers wondering when (or if) the social media giant might collapse. Competitors like Threads, Bluesky, and Mastodon are racing to attract Twitter émigrés, and Appfigures shows that Threads might be in the lead.

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Upon its July 2023 launch, Threads picked up over 100 million users in under a week, and the data shows a corresponding spike with millions of app downloads. Most came from the Google Play Store, while the Apple App Store saw about 600,000. Although enthusiasm for Meta's service rapidly cooled, with user engagement falling by 70 percent by the end of the month, daily downloads remained solidly above X, which began to dip slightly around the same time.

However, downloads of Threads started picking up again last December and have remained up there since, while X has seen a far more modest acceleration. Installs of Threads have easily doubled and sometimes tripled those of X over the last three months.

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Although figures for Mastodon and Bluesky are comparatively minimal, both platforms are decentralized, so Appfigures can't accurately track them. But those two alongside X on the App Store, received a modest spike in early February when Bluesky became available to everyone.

Daily downloads only indicate a platform's growth rate, and understandably, a mature platform like X would gain users more slowly than Threads since millions already have it on their devices. However, recent financial statements from both companies suggest Threads has passed a quarter of X's active user numbers in less than a year.

Meanwhile, analysis from last fall showed X's numbers down across the board after one year of Musk's leadership. At the beginning of 2024, Fidelity, a major X investor, valued the company at 70% less than what Musk paid in 2022.

Moreover, bots have become a worsening issue, making it difficult to tell how many active users are authentic. Both Threads and X have intensified their anti-spam efforts, yet many users have noted that bots seem more prevalent than ever on X.