Tik Tok, Twitter, et al. Why to they have market dominance?

I don’t play with those kind of things. Maybe someone can tell me why these apps which seem to do so little have such strong market positions.

Twitter sends text messages around, like any number of message apps before it, and after. What’s the big deal with Twitter in particular?

Tik Tok lets you save and share videos, just like any number of video sharing apps do. What’s the big deal?

The stuff on these apps is public, you could compete with them by creating a shell that uses their own apps. What on earth is the appeal of these specific versions of very simplistic apps? Who cares if Tik Tok is banned when a different version of it could be created overnight?

What am I missing here folks?

Dominance in some markets is self-perpetuating. Even if someone created an equivalent to, say, Twitter, why would someone use it? People who want others to see their stuff go to Twitter and TikTok because that’s where everyone else is. That is, if I want a large audience to read my short message, why should I post it to “Flitter” with its ten thousand users when I can post it to Twitter with its over 300 million users. And as a content consumer, why should I bother to have a Flitter account when there are so many more people posting at Twitter?

See network effect wiki and positive returns to scale.

As to which particular service becomes dominant in a category, it’s mostly a matter of right place right time and no major screw-ups during the rapid growth phase. MySpace had the world cornered. Then suddenly FaceBook blasted past them and that was the end of MySpace.

How did VHS beat Beta?

Better content.

Those are good points guys, but as I mentioned, all the data on these apps is available to anyone with a username and password. So the Flitter app can access all the Twitter data available for that username and password.

I understand how Facebook got huge partly because of the right time and place, but mainly by providing a better interface than it’s predecessors. Is there something about these apps that is not as simple as it seems to me?

ETA: Are there shell apps that take advantage of these services already? I have no idea, never been interested in that kind of stuff.

IOW, the network effect. QED.

Content producers went there because the audience was there. And the audience went there because the content was there.

Snowball effect. At a certain point, people use something because everyone is using that thing.

This is more likely. The VHS vs. Beta would have been different if VHS tapes worked in Beta machines. That’s the puzzling part here, I don’t see anything proprietary that has value in these apps.

If memory serves, Sony kept the Beta format as proprietary to themselves, preventing other electronics from making Beta VCRs. JVC, on the other hand, shared the VHS format with other companies. Though, IIRC, the Beta format had superior performance, when the market got flooded with VHS machines, it became the default format, and studios, which had once released tapes in both formats, started to go to VHS only.

That, and home recording.

I think any company that tried to poach Twitter’s data would be sued out of existence very quickly.

VHS beat Beta in the U.S., but not in Japan.

When home VCRs first hit the market, both formats could hold only about an hour of content on one tape. VHS upped it to two hours before Beta did. Two hours is long enough for a lot of movies, so people bought VHS. By the time Beta tapes could hold two hours, VHS had the advantage in market share. Video stores had already invested in VHS, and they didn’t want to buy a bunch duplicate material on Beta for what at that point was a smaller market. That cemented the advantage that VHS had.

Beta was actually a better technology once it caught up in recording time. It had better images and sound, but that didn’t matter once the market advantage was established. Video stores created a situation where everyone had to use the same technology. If people had only used VCRs to do home recording, there would have been less pressure on people to use the same system as everyone else.

It’s users are not poaching data. They have access to it already, why couldn’t they use a different app to do that access? Do they do that already?

Is there something fantastic or complex about the user interface for these products? I can understand it’s no trivial matter to duplicate the FaceBook interface, at least not as trivial as Twitter and Tik Tok I think, but the question applies to them as well. For the kind of money we’re talking here the investment in software isn’t all that great even on FaceBook.

Maybe I just have to use one of these things to understand. Why can’t I make an app that takes your Twitter username and password and then can access anything you could on Twitter now and in the future, and give you content not available on Twitter. My app wouldn’t simply be free, you’ll get paid to use the app too!

There must be some reason this kind of thing hasn’t been done. Or maybe it has.

With regard to social media, the best chance for an upstart app to become a game-changer is for young folks to deem it cool and to deem the former game-changer uncool. We older folks must survive on the scraps and entrails of the programs young folks feed on.

I ask my kids to keep in touch via Facebook and they say, “sorry, gramps, you gotta be on Medicare to use that…are you like from the dark ages or something?”

New channels do have a chance to start small and dominate a market quickly on the internet because of the explosive nature of the media. It’s like our universe, it doesn’t just expand, it expands exponentially.

All of the answers thus far have been very vague and abstract. New social networks generally arise and gain traction when they enable a new form of content creation that’s vastly more compelling than what exists before that point for at least one core set of users and then expands from there as network effects kick in and more use cases are discovered by users.

In the cases of Twitter and Tiktok specifically, Twitter’s 140 character limit and real time nature forced people to be succinct and constantly up to date which forced a cryptic, humorous, deeply in the know type of content that made it the “cool kids” hangout spot for, IIRC, the burning man community which spread it from there.

Before Tiktok, it was very relatively easy for the average person to make compelling photographs but there was still a big skill jump for people to make compelling video content that strangers would want to watch (as opposed to friends which snapchat was focused on). Tiktok’s innovation was realizing that pairing video with music drastically reduced the skill ceiling of making video content others wanted to watch since all you had to do was to do a goofy dance.

Instagram figured out how to make crappy cellphone camera photos look interesting via filters, Facebook figured out how to keep up to date on the status of your weak ties via a feed, Snapchat figured out how to let people send nudes to each other (relatively) safely. Reddit figured out how to do a Fark style list of links but collaboratively filtered instead of human curated. Pinterest allowed Mormon housewives to share home decorating and fashion photos with each other.

It’s very fashionable to pooh pooh the next social network because if you’re not the target user, then it all looks very silly but all of them gained traction because the content experience was simply orders of magnitude more compelling than the next best option for at least one group of people.

As I understand it, the main innovation of Twitter was that it was immediately searchable. You could type in a keyword relating to a current event and get someone else’s update from mere seconds ago. No chat or message board system with a sizeable number of users had ever managed this before.

We can argue all day why these beat out competitors, but once a small advantage is won they grow due to Metcalfe’s Law which says that the effect or value of a network grows as the square of the number of nodes, in this case users. Thus when one social network attains more users, the value is much greater than for competitors, and the network grows faster.
That also explains why there are more users on Reddit than here.

Returning to the OP’s various laments mid-thread about us not answering his actual question, he seems to be under the impression the e.g. Twitter app is the important thing, not Twitter’s content. And he’s trying to belabor that distinction.

If that’s accurate, I’d like the OP to explain a little more about what he believes to be true and what he’s really trying to dig for so someone in the know (which is probably not me) can get a resolution on this.

BTW: my rhetorical Q in an earlier post about Beta vs VHS was not meant to trigger the hijack it did. Sorry. It was simply “Here’s another example of network effects; they aren’t new.”

All this stuff is interesting, so I don’t mind the digressions.

As far as I know the only content on Twitter is the tweets. Any tweets you can see or enter with your credentials are available for access with any app using those same credentials.

@kk_fusion has pointed out a non-content feature of Twitter:

That’s what I’ve been wondering about, were there features of these interfaces, or anything else about their services that prevented competitors from creating new apps of equal or greater utility that just use the data from the existing apps.

And there are apparently other apps that you can access Twitter with: https://help.twitter.com/en/managing-your-account/connect-or-revoke-access-to-third-party-apps

So what makes me wonder about this is why anyone would care about Tik Tok being banned. Of course the existing content may become inaccessible in that case, but it would still seem very easy to replace it with something else if it’s no longer available, and an alternative in the mean time would allow people to get all their existing content and get it stored somewhere else that could remain available.

Interrupted before. My impression is that the many factors mentioned here about different aspects of gaining and maintaining a user base for these apps. Combined together they make it difficult to compete with the established products. And the time frame for competition in software has been short for a long time and shortens every day so for something like Twitter it’s potential market may have already peaked and maybe it’s not worth trying to pick off their users.