By Melissa Etehad Los Angeles Times
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Twitter's embrace of the new live 360-Degree video format is the company's latest attempt to implement features that will attract new users and, with them, bolster revenue.
Los Angeles Times
Twitter has joined the ranks of competitors such as Facebook and YouTube by adding 360-degree live video streams in the company's latest move to become a home to more than just 140-character messages.
The feature, made available Wednesday, is limited in scope. While all users of Twitter and its streaming video service, Periscope, can view the immersive virtual reality experiences, only those with specific credentials, such as broadcasters, will be able to use the technology to create their own 360-degree streams.
It remains unclear how users can earn the "broadcaster" title; Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
Industry experts say limiting the feature's release is likely intended to help Twitter better control the type and quality of 360-degree video content. Over time, they say, it's likely Twitter will open the capability to more users.
Twitter's embrace of the new video format is the company's latest attempt to implement features that will attract new users and, with them, bolster revenue. Earlier this year, Twitter rolled out changes to its interface and debuted streaming content deals with sports leagues, including the NFL, which airs Thursday Night Football on the service.
Adding 360-degree video may help Twitter retain existing users and even increase the amount of time they spend on the service. But it's unlikely that it will attract new users, experts said, unless Twitter can show how the feature can be relevant for a large segment of the population.
Courting new users has become one of Twitter's biggest problems since the return of Chief Executive and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey in 2015. The company recorded just over 3 percent growth in monthly active users between September 2015 and September 2016.
Rumored suitors including Walt Disney Co. and Salesforce.com passed on bidding on the service in October, leaving Twitter to fend for itself.
Twitter should focus on strategies that will help it grow internationally and add features no one else has, Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of Moor Insights and Strategy said.
The next year "will be a pivotal year (for Twitter), and they need to grow or I expect the Twitter investors to get hostile with Dorsey and the board of directors," Moorhead said.
Dorsey on Thursday took it upon himself to ask his 3 million Twitter followers for ideas about new features and functions that could help improve the service in 2017.
Some mentioned harassment and trolling, major problems for Twitter that can be a hurdle for attracting new users and a deterrent for current ones. Also popular was the long-standing request: an edit feature so users can fix mistakes without having to delete a Tweet and rewrite it.
"We're thinking a lot about it," Dorsey tweeted.
"This is the first time that Jack Dorsey has been introspective about his site," Wedbush Securities research analyst Michael Pachter said.
Pachter believes that despite its enormous potential, Twitter is not effective at showcasing how it can be relevant in people's day-to-day lives, like Facebook and Instagram, which have maintained user growth.
"What makes people want to use Twitter is the discovery that everything you're interested in, is there," Pachter said.