Bluesky saw record usage after Elon Musk announced plans to charge all X users

Social network Bluesky once again benefited from Elon Musk's missteps with X, the network formerly known as Twitter. According to a new analysis of Bluesky's web traffic and mobile app usage, the would-be X competitor hit a daily active user record just after Musk announced he would begin charging all X users a small monthly fee to use its services.

Musk's announcement was made during a livestreamed event on September 18, where the X owner explained that a subscription payment would be necessary in order to combat the "vast armies of bots" on the platform. X users, meanwhile, didn't seem to like that news, as they sent rival Bluesky's numbers soaring.

A related report from Mashable noted that Bluesky saw record new sign-ups after Musk announced his plans to charge X users, noting that Bluesky saw a total of 53,585 new signups by the end of Tuesday, September 19. That figure equates to 5% of the platform's entire user base of roughly 1.13 million accounts.

Analytics firm Similarweb now further backs up those findings with its latest report that indicates Bluesky's Android app saw half a million daily active users on the day of Musk's announcement, September 18, and its web traffic surged even higher.

On Android, the daily active users metric was up 20.6% from the day prior, but it doesn't have an estimate for iOS usage at this time, only saying it expects the trend to be similar.

Image Credits: Similarweb

Meanwhile, the Bluesky web app saw over 775,000 daily visitors, up 30% from the day prior. got over 1 million daily visitors on September 19 and nearly as many on September That figure is more than the number of users Bluesky saw on July 1, 2023 -- 811,000 -- after another X controversy when the service had imposed temporary rate limits on the number of tweets users could view, Similarweb said.

That rush of new users had even prompted Bluesky to halt new user sign-ups for a time as the website buckled under the influx of traffic.

Image Credits: Similarweb

What's interesting about Similarweb's findings is that it seems Bluesky benefits when X stumbles, but the same is not necessarily true for other would-be Twitter rivals, like Instagram Threads or Mastodon. The new Twitter clone from Meta saw 8.3 million daily active users on September 18, but that was roughly in line with the figure it had seen the prior day, the firm found -- and it's still far down from its peak usage shortly after launch.

Image Credits: Similarweb

Because Bluesky remains invite-only, the surge in usage this week could have been even higher if it had opened up its doors to anyone interested in joining.

That makes now several missed opportunities where Bluesky could have benefited from X's blunders, from the time of Musk's Twitter takeover to the chaos with the revamped verification system to the more recent rate limits to X's announcement about the end of blocks and now the news that X plans to charge all users.

Bluesky seems wholly uninterested in capitalizing on these moments to grow its user base, which has just now topped 1 million -- a tiny sliver of what X now has.

Musk announced that X has 550 million monthly active users -- a figure far larger than Bluesky or other competitors, like Threads or Mastodon. The former is estimated to have 135 million global monthly active users, per data from market intelligence firm Mastodon, meanwhile, publishes its monthly active user numbers publicly, which now stand at 1.7 million.

Despite being the largest of the microblogging networks, X may be somewhat worried about its market position after its rebranding. The company recently added "formerly Twitter" to its App Store description to help boost its rankings in App Store search. The phrase "formerly Twitter" replaced the earlier tagline "Blaze your glory," which didn't likely help its rankings.

X had seen its weekly active users decline after its rebranding while installs for Twitter Lite grew -- likely out of consumer confusion, as people were searching for Twitter and only finding the Lite app for emerging markets.

Updated, 9/22/23 3:30 PM ET with more recent data provided by Similarweb.