I doubt that this will be any surprise to anybody that’s been paying attention to X’s push towards paying subscriptions over the past year. But according to a new report from TechCrunch, X’s upcoming audio and video calling features, to be built into X DMs, will be an X Premium feature only, meaning that you’ll have to pay to use either option in the app.
As you can see in this example, X’s soon-to-be-released audio and video calling options will be accessible via your inbox, enabling you to quickly connect with people via the app.
X has shared various details on the coming additions, including at its Client Council meeting last week. But it hasn’t yet confirmed whether it will be available to everyone, or only to paying users.
Now, detail in the back-end code of the app seems to confirm this, with lines noting that “audio and video calls are a premium feature”, which are related to error messages that non-subscribers will likely get if they try to make a call in the app.
Which, again, is no surprise. The X team has been trying to add more enticements for people to take up X Premium subscriptions, in the hopes of both expanding its revenue potential, while also combating bots and spam in the app. X owner Elon Musk recently noted that pushing users towards paid subscriptions is “the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots”, as getting more users to pay, even if it’s just a small amount per month, will make it much more expensive for bot farms to operate.
The problem with that is that it requires mass take-up to be effective. In order to make this a disincentive for bot peddlers, the vast majority of X users would need to be verified, which would then mean that most non-paying, non-verified accounts are likely bots.
But thus far, less than 0.5% of X users have signed on to the program, so it has a way to go to make this effective in this sense.
Musk has also said that X will soon add another, cheaper payment tier for its verification program, which could prompt more sign-ups, while speculation remains that Musk could eventually force all users to pay for X access at some stage.
That would likely be a damaging move, especially at such low rates of take-up for the program at this stage. But maybe, if X can sweeten the deal, and convince more people to pay to use the app, it could still become a viable anti-bot measure, and a full pay gate pathway for the app at some stage.
Maybe, adding audio and video calls will help in this respect, though people have gotten by without these features in the app thus far, so it’s not likely to be an essential offering by any means.
But at the same time, X needs to try more things. And given nobody else has solved the social platform bot problem, who’s to say, I guess, that Elon’s not right, and that this isn’t the way to go on this front.