I’ve been highly critical of Twitter’s engineering efforts in the past. The company spends close to a billion dollars per year on R&D yet continues to let competitors capitalize in new areas where Twitter was in a good case to win. Short form video (TikTok) and long form text (Substack) are just a few recent examples.
I’m also endlessly frustrated that the company still doesn’t have a full time CEO… But I think Twitter might have executed well with Spaces. And unlike a recent lacklustre product feature like Fleets (Twitter’s version of Stories), it’s not years late to the party.
Back in 2019, Greg Maffei of Liberty Media said “The ear is under-monetized.”
It was such a weird expression that it stuck with me.
He continued to highlight that not only has “audio seen a recent explosion of content but it still only accounts for about 4 hours per day, per listener. But our bet is that’s going up.”
I think Apple’s AirPods, in effect solved wireless personal audio and this is now allowing for more audio hours per day as new use cases emerge.
Spaces was only first mentioned by Twitter in November and rolled out to a small number of iOS users in December. The Spaces feature is very similar in design to the Clubhouse app, where a host can allow other people to speak to the group. With most people stuck at home due to covid the online audio space is on fire right now. Clubhouse has seen its private market valuation increase by 10 fold in just 8 months to $1 billion.
So when I saw Twitter product lead @Kayvz was hosting a Spaces demo I was intrigued and immediately clicked on it. I recorded some of it below.
I honestly think that Spaces might be a game changer for the Twitter user experience.
One of Twitter’s biggest drawback to broad acceptance is that it’s text based. Most people like consuming media in video rather than reading.
However, a text based app leaves an open layer for audio and that’s what Spaces brings; a second layer to the user experience. The Spaces feature is so well integrated into the Twitter app that you can scroll through your timeline while actively listening to the conversation in Spaces. It’s seamless.
I expect to hear more about Spaces at Twitter’s upcoming Analyst day. Aaron Edelheit has written about this event as a potential turning point for the company. I hope he’s right as well but this post was more about me as a Twitter user than me as a Twitter investor. I just think Spaces will be pretty cool; it’s in effect live group podcasting.
Disclosure: Long Twitter
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