Twitter's upgrades can't hide its problem nabbing new users

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Twitter's upgrades can't hide its problem nabbing new users

For a company that's embedded itself so thoroughly in the fabric of modern communication, Twitter sure is having trouble getting more people to use it. The company just released its latest batch of quarterly financials, and while it handily generated more revenue and earnings per share than Wall Street analysts expected (think $479 million in revenue over the past three months), it's still not picking up new users as fast as everyone wants it to. This past quarter saw total user numbers surge to 288 million -- that's a 20 percent leap over this time last year, but only an increase of about 4 million users since Twitter's last quarterly info dump. Curiously, it looks like nearly all of those new users came from outside US borders, making this quarter the first with negligible US growth since Twitter's IPO.

Dick Costolo must be thrilled. People already have it out for him as it is.

These past few weeks have been busy ones for Twitter, and you can't blame some cynics for looking at everything the company announced as a way to deflect criticism of its slowing user growth. It's going to push Promoted Tweets into apps it doesn't own. Its video subsidiary Vine launched a spin-off for kids (and we're still not really sure why). It finally brought group messaging and video recording to Twitter proper. Hell, just yesterday, word of a partnership between Twitter and Google conveniently surfaced that would make the full social firehose more visible in search results early this year.

The real question is how much new user growth really matters right now. It's clear that Twitter has gotten really good at making money (advertising revenue just about doubled since last year), and a scrounging for new eyeballs definitely won't fall off the list of priorities, the company could continue to cruise for a while by sticking to its guns. Twitter's pouring plenty of effort into making those little social tidbits as ubiquitous and robust as possible, which is downright crucial since how frequently people engage with their timelines doesn't seem to be budging. Making sure current users stick around and do stuff is even more important now that Costolo admitted Twitter's ease of use for abuse is alienating its core customers.

"We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years," he reportedly said in an internal memo obtained by The Verge. There's still plenty to dissect on this matter (and many more) in the customary earnings call starting shortly -- we'll update this story with more as it develops.

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