Meet Fleets: Twitter at last trials its own Stories challenger

Less than two short years ago, internet heavyweights ranging from Microsoft to Google brought their guns to bear in one specific theatre of war; where the terrain was unforgiving and ephemeral, and the content short. The arena, as we know it today, was Stories; and there was a time where Facebook integrated the feature into every avenue possible in a bid to clusterbomb Snapchat out of existence.

While the attempt was clumsy and for the most part meant that one would need to create Stories on Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and a variety of other more experimental apps, the venture was largely successful in cementing Instagram’s title as lord of vapidity. The rest, as they say, was history – Snapchat continues to exist, but has largely turned to other content avenues and unique filters to propel itself now that Facebook has largely co-opted its most prized feature.

However, there was one social media network that never truly attempted to weigh into the war; that noble soul was Twitter, whose focus on lengthening tweet, launching Moments, and dealing with online abuse largely eclipsed any attempt to bring Stories (nevermind an edit button) to life.

Now, somewhat late to the party, Twitter has officially unveiled its own take on Stories. It’s called Fleets, and the feature is now available in a limited trial in India after first launching in Brazil and Italy.

In a statement, Twitter’s India managing director Manish Maheshwari offered that “India is important for Twitter since it is one of our largest and fastest-growing audience markets globally… We are excited to bring the Fleets experiment to India and make it one of the first three countries in the world to experience this new product.”

The word ‘new’ may not mean ‘novel’, but company has firmly promoted Fleets as a method to promote conversation, rather than simple image or photo sharing. Fleets are largely text-driven, and may come to represent highlights on a Twitter’s timeline in the future.

“From the test in India, we’ll learn how adding a new mode of conversation changes the way Indians engage on Twitter. It’ll also be interesting to see if it further amplifies the diversity of usage by allowing people to share what they’re thinking in a way that is light-touch and light-hearted,” Maheshwari elaborated.

It isn’t year clear as to when Fleets will arrive on the global stage, but it seems that Twitter itself is now ready to give the feature prime-time, having elected to forego challenging the likes of Facebook years ago.

What are your thoughts? Would you use Fleets? Would it serve any purpose to you on Twitter? Let us know your opinions in the comments below.