Twitter announced its Q4 2014 earnings on Thursday.
The company beat revenue and earnings per share estimates, but missed Wall Street’s month active user (MAU) target.
Twitter reported 288 million MAUs vs. 295 million expected.
CFO Anthony Noto said the decline in users was due to Apple’s rollout of iOS 8 in September.
“We lost approximately 4 million net users due to rollouts of iOS 8,” said Noto.
Some Apple experts didn’t understand Noto’s explanation:
I’m confused: Twitter CFO said the company lost 4 million MAUs due to iOS 8 rollout. What?
— Caitlin McGarry (@Caitlin_McGarry) February 5, 2015
But Twitter explained to us that 3 million people disappeared because of a change in the Shared Links section of the Safari browser on iOS 8.
In iOS 7, if you are logged into Twitter, the Shared Links section will automatically show you tweets from people on your connected Twitter accounts. iOS 8 made the process more manual, Twitter told us, and got rid of that automatic polling, so tweets weren’t immediately up to date. You can also follow RSS feeds in the Shared Links section, which may have reduced the prominence of Twitter links there.
Twitter said that another 1 million people dropped out as they upgraded and could not get their passwords to work because of an encryption issue.
In a follow-up call with Business Insider, CEO Dick Costolo said:
There were two issues. One was Safari auto-polling, and that was 3 million users and we don’t expect to get those users back. The other issue that was more complex was an encryption issue related to the Twitter integration into iOS, such that when users integrated, a lot of them weren’t able to launch Twitter successfully. That was a much more complex issue, it did not have a one-size-fits-all fix, so the team here worked as quickly as possible to address it but it caused a large number of users to not be able to use the product, even those who were trying repeatedly to figure out ways to get in.
All in all, 4 million users is a drop in the bucket of Twitter’s total 288 million users, but the company only missed user expectations by 7 million, so it’s significant in that respect.