Yesterday, X began rolling out Grok, the “rebellious” AI chatbot developed by Elon Musk’s xAI startup, to Premium+ subscribers on X’s platform. Today, Musk says that Grok’s rollout to all U.S. Premium+ subscribers is now complete, but cautioned that the beta would face many issues, though it would be steadily improved. He also offered a time frame for Grok reaching other markets beyond the U.S., noting that all English language users (who subscribe to Premium+) would gain access to Grok in “about a week or so.”
Japanese users, which is X’s second-largest user base, would then follow with the aim of bringing Grok to “hopefully” all languages by “early 2024,” the X owner said.
Of course, Musk’s time frames for when things will happen don’t always come to pass — just ask any longtime Tesla watcher who spent time waiting on full self-driving (FSD). However, with Grok, Musk has only been a little behind in terms of his launch estimates. On November 22, for instance, Musk said that xAI’s Grok would launch to Premium+ subscribers “next week,” but the chatbot actually launched this week, on December 7.
Whether or not the chatbot is a success in driving subscription revenue for X still remains to be seen. For now, Grok is only part of X’s top-tier subscription offering — the $16 per month Premium+. That’s much pricier than X’s Basic ($3/mo) and Premium ($8/mo) options, and it’s not clear it will appeal to casual AI dabblers who can use rival chatbots like ChatGPT or Google’s Bard for free.
The Premium+ subscription comes with access to other features to broaden its appeal, including the benefit of seeing no advertisements in the For You and Following timelines on X. Premium+ users also have their replies boosted the most, in addition to all of Premium’s features like ads revenue sharing for creators, ID verification, a verified checkmark, access to Media Studio and more.
But so far, subscriptions haven’t driven the majority of X, formerly Twitter’s revenue — advertising has.
Yet now, it’s unclear what X’s ad-supported future may look like as Musk has been alienating X’s advertisers — even telling them to “fuck yourself” for leaving X over concerns of antisemitic content on the site. For X to be sustainable, it may need a larger number of users to subscribe to Premium+ for Grok to help shore up the loss of ad dollars as brands like Apple, Disney, IBM, Paramount, Walmart and others flee the platform.
Of note, X had its largest-ever month for subscription revenue in November, pulling in $6.2 million in net revenue, after app store fees, according to one estimate by app intelligence provider Apptopia. However, that’s still less than a third of what Snapchat made for its own in-app subscription, which topped $20 million for the first time last month.
In other words, there’s still plenty of room for X to grow subscribers, given it reportedly has more than 500 million monthly active users. Whether or not it can, of course, is another story.