Twitter Acquires Multi-Participant Streaming App Squad, Which Enables Screen-Sharing Within Chats

This could be interesing. Twitter has officially acquired multi-participant video chat app Squad, which could pave the way for new video streaming features in the app.

Squad is primarily a video chat tool, which enables users to connect in real-time, similar to Houseparty. But the app’s key addition is simplified screen-sharing – with Squad, any chat participant can share their screen, at any time, which then enables discussion based around content from other apps, private messages, etc. (in the above example, the top left screen is from Tinder).

That’s proven popular – earlier this year, Squad noted that its usage had increased 1100% as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns. 

It makes sense – simplified chat, with the capacity to provide additional context. And now, Twitter will likely look to incorporate that functionality to facilitate broader discussion of tweets, specifically.

I mean, everyone discusses tweets in other apps anyway. Why not bring it all together to build more direct video chat?

How, exactly, that might work is hard to say, but it appears that Twitter could be shutting down its separate live-streaming app Periscope to make room for the addition. The separate Squad app is also being shut down – on the Squad website, it now displays this message.

Squad website

It could be a good addition for Twitter, if it can integrate the functionality in an effective, engaging way. Twitter’s track record on such is not great – the separate Vine app was eventually shuttered because Twitter couldn’t work out monetization, while other big Twitter features like Moments seem to be launched with a lot of hype, then die out with barely a whimper.

I would also point you to Audio Tweets, Twitter Camera tools, its live-stream shows. Basically, Twitter has struggled to really innovate and provide new functionality to expand app usage beyond basic tweeting. Which is fine, but it also means that Twitter is constantly at risk of losing preference to other, more adaptive apps and tools. That, additionally, poses growth challenges for the platform.

Fleets could be another example. It’s too early to say whether Twitter’s stories clone will be another miss for the app, but the fact that Twitter is jumping onto the trend so late, and without many of the same key features that have made Stories so engaging in other apps, probably doesn’t bode well for the option. And that largely encapsulates Twitter’s challenges – while it has tried new things to expand app usage, it hasn’t found many unique angles or use cases to make these new tools more compelling.

But maybe Squad will be different.

Twitter has already acknowledged the use of tweets in other apps with the recent addition of an option to share tweets in Snapchat Stories, which it’s also testing for Instagram.

Tweets on Snapchat

As noted, discussion of tweets is big on other apps, with Twitter content often leading the broader conversation. Maybe, by enabling people to do that directly, within video chats, that could facilitate new use cases, and help keep that chatter within Twitter itself, as opposed to having it filter off into other channels.

I mean, I wouldn’t necessarily bet on it. But given broader usage trends, it makes sense. Squad could be a valuable addition, if Twitter can get it right.

Maybe Twitter could look to make video a bigger focus more generally, with a dedicated video tab, highlighting in-progress live streams, chats among your friends, and trending video clips. If that were added as a fifth tab in the app (or as a replacement for a current tab), that could be significant, and with Twitter’s connection to real-time trends, that could see it highlight the most relevant video clips and discussions, drawing more people in.

You could then discuss those trends in real-time with friends via Squad chats. Simplified, multi-participant chat via Twitter could be a good addition – and it would definitely improve its Fleets offering.

There are options here, there is potential. Whether Twitter will go all-in, and give it more focus is another question, and it could peter out just as easily.

But it seems like a good fit, which could help expand the Twitter offering.

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