Twitter doubles character limit, Snap triples loss
Following a trial, Twitter has doubled the maximum size of a post from 140 to 280 characters.
Twitter debuted with a 140-character limit (back in 2006) for the practical reason that it matched the limit on text messages at the time.
When I polled my social media followers, the vast majority wanted the limit kept at 140 (you know the drill, you think your own precious thoughts are worth more than 140 characters but you'd rather others kept it brief).
The backlash was made worse by many triallists taking the mickey.
However, in a blog post backed up by usage charts, Twitter says that after the initial blush of 280-character posts simply because they could, triallists reverted to shorter tweets at most times – only stretching beyond 140 characters when they needed to.
280 character support extends to Tweetdeck (owned by Twitter) but other third-party clients have yet to gain support for the feature.
Battle for number two
Why does Twitter suddenly want to give us more powers of expression?
Twitter and Snap are in a race to be the second social network behind Facebook (the far-and-away no 1, with an increase of 70 million users in the third quarter for a total 2.1 billion; its quarterly profit increased 79% to $US4.7 billion on $US10.3 billion revenue).
Twitter recently reported 328 million monthly active users in the first quarter, a static 328 million in the second and 330 million in the third quarter as it lost $US21 million on revenue of $US574 million.
Today, Snapchat owner Snap's shares plunged 20% after it revealed it had tripled its quarterly loss to $US443.2 million on revenue that rose 62% to $US207.9 million (no, those figures aren't transposed).
Snap's result wasn't helped by a $US39 million charge for excess inventory – largely its Spectacles or camera-equipped glasses.
As with Twitter, user growth is stalling (Snapchat has around 300 million monthly users). Both face copycat tactics employed by the Facebook-owned Instagram.
Chief executive and co-founder Evan Spiegel says Snap will be redesigned to make it easier to use. But even if he succeeds, a broader question will linger: How can Snapchat monetise its service? Those darn Millennials just don't like ads — putting them in the same bucket as every other generation.