Chris Barnett purchased his first iPhone in December of last year, at the persuasion of his buddies. When he arrived, they informed him that he needed to join Clubhouse, an invitation-only audio software that could only be accessed via iPhones.
Because he was well-known in his social circle for organising a fantasy basketball league, they invited him to join them on Clubhouse for the basketball talks that were taking place. Mr. Barnett garnered a small following after signing up for his new phone and went on to form a discussion group about the National Basketball Association, which eventually expanded to include more than 4,000 members.
Mr. Barnett’s analysis of a recent game, on the other hand, will have to be found on Twitter today if listeners want to hear it. In August, he began presenting a basketball programme on Spaces, Twitter’s audio chat service that is modelled like Clubhouse. The show airs every weekday. In addition, he developed a network of other content makers to promote their sports and cultural debates on social media platforms.
Mr. Barnett isn’t the only audio producer who has defected from Clubhouse and joined another platform in the wake of a swarm of copycat chat applications that have appeared this year, posing a threat to Clubhouse and attempting to win over its members.
Major technology businesses have launched comparable audio platforms: Twitter launched Spaces, Facebook launched an audio chat function, and Spotify launched a platform called Greenroom, among others. And certain groups, such as those centred on gaming and nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, have gravitated toward more established chat systems, such as Discord, which has audio functionality, rather than to newer platforms.
As a result of the intense competition among so-called social audio companies, it is unclear whether Clubhouse will be able to maintain its position as the leading platform for live conversation while the company and its imitators figure out how to keep up with the moderation challenges that audio discussions present.
A parallel may be drawn between the current social audio explosion and Snapchat’s struggle with Facebook in 2016. Snapchat’s famous Stories feature, which enabled users to publish photographs that would vanish after 24 hours, was copied and pasted into Facebook’s Instagram programme, where it has since gained widespread popularity. Snapchat’s growth slowed as a result of Instagram’s introduction of stories, and other social media platforms swiftly launched their own versions of the feature.
Clubhouse is up against similar obstacles as it attempts to get an advantage over the competition. Following Snapchat’s lead, it may finally succeed in fighting off the big giants and establishing itself among the top social networking applications. Alternatively, it may be squished by them.
Clubhouse was seeing a resurgence at the start of the year. According to Sensor Tower, the app was downloaded 9.6 million times in February alone. Although a Clubhouse representative challenged the veracity of Sensor Tower’s measurements, which estimate user activity, she said that the firm would not share internal numbers.
Nonetheless, other Clubhouse users expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that celebrities and business leaders were no longer frequenting the app, and that the talks that did continue were less fascinating. The ability to locate listeners on Twitter was more convenient for producers who already had a following on the social media platform, rather than having to establish a new audience on Clubhouse.
Other audio makers, on the other hand, claim that since Clubhouse is exclusively focused on social audio, the product and community are superior to those found on platforms that divide their emphasis among a variety of features. They also suggest that Clubhouse should continue to serve as a forum for discussing emergent ideas before they become popular.
Guests on their programme have included tech heavyweights like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, and they have featured conversations regarding supply chain issues as well as a push by the Bitcoin community to purchase the United States Constitution.
Ms. Ramamurthy expressed her confidence that Clubhouse, as well as the realm of social audio, was more than simply a passing novelty in the digital age. “We’re oftentimes thought of as this really steady, large corporation,” she said. “We’re simply a scrappy start-up,” says the founder. The two of us are still finding things out; we have our good and terrible days.”