Elon Musk is killing off Twitter’s iconic blue bird and replacing it with his favourite letter of the alphabet – but that might not be the biggest change coming for the social media platform.
Mr Musk, who took over Twitter last year in a deal worth $US44 billion ($61 billion), on Tuesday (AEST) revealed its next iteration, ‘X’.
Stylistic changes include a change from a blue colour scheme to black, and switching Twitter’s bird for an “Art Deco”-style letter X.
The stylised white X on a black background became the logo on Twitter’s website, although the blue bird remains on the mobile app.
While the change might seem sudden to the casual observer, Mr Musk has long been open about his plan to transition Twitter to X, which he called “the everything app” in October 2022.
Twitter Inc was officially renamed X Corp in April 2023, and while the twitter.com URL remains active, x.com also directs internet users to the social media platform.
When announcing the appointment of Linda Yaccarino as Twitter CEO in May, Mr Musk said he looked forward to working with her to transform Twitter into X, the everything app.
Ms Yaccarino tweeted on Monday that X would transform the global town square.
“X is the future state of unlimited interactivity – centred in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities,” she wrote.
The new Twitter sign-in page. Photo: AAP
What is an ‘everything app’?
Ms Yaccarino said there was “absolutely no limit” to Twitter’s transformation.
“X will be the platform that can deliver, well … everything,” she wrote.
Mr Musk has been vocal about his desire to create an everything app, openly wanting to follow in the footsteps of the Chinese app, WeChat.
“If you’re in China, you kind of live on WeChat,” Mr Musk said on the All-In podcast last year.
“It does everything. It’s sort of like Twitter, plus PayPal, plus a whole bunch of things all rolled into one, with a great interface.
“It’s really an excellent app, and we don’t have anything like that outside of China.”
WeChat launched in China in 2011, and it has more than a billion users worldwide.
Originally a platform focused on mobile text and voice messages, WeChat’s services have expanded to become omnipresent in users’ everyday lives.
WeChat – and its embedded mini-apps, which allow access to third-party services – can be used to pay bills, transfer money, book hotels and taxis, organise hospital appointments, shop online, and buy groceries.
Users must have a Chinese bank account to access the WeChat Pay function, which is open to 49 countries, including Australia – where more than 10,000 shops and restaurants use the system.
World’s ‘biggest financial institution’
If Mr Musk has his way, X will be the West’s answer to the Chinese everything app, with a particular focus on financial services.
In March, he told Morgan Stanley managing director Michael Grimes that X could become “the biggest financial institution in the world” by providing convenient payment options.
“I think it’s possible to create a very powerful finance experience, basically,” he said.
“PayPal is kind of like a halfway version of what I think could be done in payments and finance.
“You want to be able to send money easily from one account on X-slash-Twitter to another account effortlessly, with one click. You want to be able to earn interest on the money; you want to be able to have debt, so your interest can go negative.”
Twitter a step to ultimate goal
Mr Musk has been working towards this for decades; he co-founded online bank X.com in 1999, an institution that incentivised sign-ups and eased the process of transferring funds digitally.
X.com later merged with software company Confinity, and formed secure online payments platform PayPal, which launched in 2000 and was bought by eBay in 2002 for $US1.5 billion ($A2.2 billion).
In 2017, Mr Musk bought the X.com domain from PayPal for its “sentimental value”.
Elon Musk (right) has long had plans for X.com. Photo: Twitter/@WalterIsaacson
While the ability to handle money on Twitter/X is yet to go live, Mr Musk has already overseen several changes since his takeover, including putting blue verification checkmarks up for sale, and testing out job listings on verified organisation profiles.
While some are condemning his plans to massively change Twitter – and throwing away the level of brand recognition many companies would kill for by disposing of the platform’s blue bird and lexicon – Mr Musk is not backing down.
X is a key part of Mr Musk’s vision for the future – he’s just using Twitter’s pre-existing user base and platform to speed things up.