Tech

Hey Tumblr, U OK, Bro?

Twitter is struggling. Vine is dying. And there are no guarantees in life competing against Facebook and Snapchat.

Vine’s body isn’t yet in the ground, but Tumblr might already be sweating.

Facebook and Snapchat — the number 1 and 2 most used apps in the U.S., according to App Annie — are so completely dominating today’s social media landscape that it’s become increasingly difficult for their competitors to find breathing room.

Vine couldn’t keep up, and it’s on the way out. New entrants like Peach and Ello have spiked and then fallen off spectacularly. Twitter hasn’t moved the user number needle in a meaningful way in recent years. And so now it’s fair to ask whether Tumblr, another once-great social platform fighting the same uphill battle, will be able to keep up.

When asked if users can expect the platform to stick around for some time, a Tumblr spokesperson declined to comment. But even if Tumblr’s not talking, the numbers say it’s in far better shape than Vine.

Data from the research firm 7Park Data, shows Tumblr holding relatively steady in usage over the past year and a half, the same time period that Vine plunged. App Annie’s data shows a similar pattern.

Yet Tumblr doesn’t generate the same mainstream excitement it did before the Yahoo acquisition. And it’s still unclear how its new corporate overlord, Verizon, will treat it.

So, while Tumblr will probably be fine, consumer tech products that don’t absolutely crush all-else are always at risk of being disposed of, especially when they sit in a big corporate infrastructure, like Tumblr does. You don’t have to go far back to find the demise of beloved consumer products that didn’t fit a strategy, and didn’t have the numbers to demand a future. Google Reader, an RSS reader with a wildly passionate fanbase, went belly up inside Google in March 2013. Sunrise, a popular calendar app, did the same inside Microsoft this August.

A few years ago, the social media landscape was a relatively level playing field with many social companies standing shoulder to shoulder in competition. But that time has passed. Winners have emerged. It’s time for a real reckoning and shakeout. Vine is gone. Tumblr is in better standing, but it will have to work hard to avoid a similar fate.




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Alex Kantrowitz is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. He reports on social and communications.
Contact Alex Kantrowitz at alex.kantrowitz@buzzfeed.com.
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