Twitter brings its Stories feature, Fleets, to Japan

Sarah Perez
·3-min read

Twitter's own version of Stories, which it calls "Fleets," have arrived in Japan. The new feature allows users to post ephemeral content that automatically disappears after 24 hours. Though Fleets previously launched in Brazil, India, Italy and South Korea, Japan is notably Twitter's second largest market, with some estimated 51.9 million users.

It's also second in terms of revenues, led by advertising. In Q3 2020, Japan generated $132.4 million in revenue, coming in second behind the U.S.'s $512.6 million.

Twitter can be experimental when it comes to new features -- it even once developed a new way to manage threads with a public prototype, coded alongside user feedback. But not all the features it dabbles with make it to launch.

However, the further expansion of Fleets to Japan signals Twitter's interest in the product hasn't diminished over time. It seems it's now only a matter of time before Fleets arrive in Twitter's largest market, the U.S.

That said, the U.S. may be the hardest market for Fleets to crack, as here, many users are concerned about how all social media apps are starting to look alike.

Whatever feature becomes a breakout success on one platform soon finds its way to all the others. In the early days, we saw this trend with the "feed" format, modeled after Facebook's News Feed. The Stories format, popularized by Snapchat, came next. And now apps like Instagram and Snapchat are ripping off TikTok with their own short-form video features.

The result is that apps are losing focus on what makes them unique.

Twitter, for what it's worth, has historically been slow to copy from other social networks. In fact, it's one of the last to embrace Stories -- a feature that's now even on LinkedIn, of all places.

Plus, in Twitter's case, the Stories feature may end up serving a different purpose than on other networks.

Instead of offering users a way to post content of lesser quality -- posts that didn't deserve a more prominent spot in the feed, that is -- Fleets may encourage users who haven't felt comfortable with the platform's more public nature to begin posting for the first time. Or, at least, it could push users to increase their content output and engagement.

Twitter's Fleets work much like Stories on other platforms. With a tap on the "+" (plus) button, users can post text, photos, GIFs or videos. Meanwhile, viewers use gestures to navigate the Fleets posted by others. The Stories sit at the top of the app's home screen, also like on other platforms.

Twitter tells TechCrunch all users in Japan should have Fleets available on their accounts soon, but couldn't share a time frame for a U.S. launch.