Twitter this week announced it’s shutting down its standalone livestreaming app Periscope, which it acquired in 2015. The company said the app had been “an unsustainable maintenance-mode state” for some time, and Twitter has seen its usage decline as costs went up. The app will no longer function by March 2021, but Twitter says it’s not giving up on live video. It notes that it brought most of Periscope’s core capabilities to Twitter over the years.
Users will be able to download an archive of their Periscope broadcasts and data before the app is removed and those that have been published to Twitter will continue to live on as replays.
Twitter has a history of making bad calls on its standalone apps that seemed like smart decisions at the time. The company was early to the idea that music and social could work well when tied together when it launched a standalone Twitter Music app in 2013. Years later, other companies have proven that to be true — TikTok said this week its app is driving hits, and got 70-some artists major label record deals. In 2020, over 176 songs passed 1 billion views as TikTok sounds.
Another idea Twitter killed, of course, was Vine, the app that could have been TikTok, had it lasted.
Now Twitter is killing its live video app, a project it abandoned, as everyone else is figuring out how to turn live video streams into e-commerce transactions. Today, Facebook and Instagram offer live video shopping, including in Instagram Reels, its TikTok rival. And TikTok itself launched its first big test of livestreamed video shopping in partnership with Walmart. Other big names who are investing in live video shopping include Amazon through its QVC-like Amazon Live, Alibaba through AliExpress, JD.com, Pinduoduo, WeChat and TikTok’s Chinese sister app, Douyin.
One could argue that Twitter just wants to stake out its own place and not follow the crowd, but its latest big feature was Stories, er, Fleets, a format that’s just about everywhere. And its current test product is Spaces, a rival to Clubhouse and a handful of other audio-networking startups.