No matter how you look at it, the going is certainly getting tougher for audio social pioneer Clubhouse.
Over the last week and a bit, Facebook announced a slate of new audio social products across its various surfaces, Reddit added ‘Reddit Talk‘, its own take on the format, and Instagram launched audio-only IG Live streams, providing more alternative options for Clubhouse’s key functionality.
And then today, Twitter delivered another full-handed slap to Clubhouse’s face, with the expanded launch of its audio Spaces offering to all Twitter users, on iOS and Android, who have more than 600 followers.
Clubhouse, as a reminder, doesn’t yet have an Android app.
You would imagine that the mood around Clubhouse HQ is pretty tense, but for now, the app continues on its own path, moving forward with its own development plans, and into the next stage of its expansion. Or ‘renovation’, I guess, because it’s a Clubhou… never mind.
That expansion, of course, will primarily focus on a full roll-out, which will involve opening up the app to all users and releasing an Android version.
There’s nothing new to report on the former as yet, but on the latter, Clubhouse is progressing to the next stage of its Android app development.
As reported by TechCrunch:
“The company announced during its weekly town hall event that its Android version has entered beta testing with a handful of non-employees who will provide the company with early feedback ahead of a public launch.”
Clubhouse confirmed the test in its weekly Town Hall notes:
Town Hall Highlights
???? Continued work on Android, payments, & lots of plumbing
???? Fixed bugs in a second release after last Sunday’s update
???? Watch Clubhouse HQ for an update on the Creator First Program Weds @ 9am PST
???? @anuatluru confirms she is still watching Survivor
— Clubhouse (@joinClubhouse) May 2, 2021
The fact that Clubhouse doesn’t haven’t an Android app has now become a much bigger impediment, with competitors launching their audio tools across all versions of their apps. That could make it a much harder sell for Clubhouse to eventually get Android users across – why would people switch to a new app for audio social meetings when they can get the same functionality in the tools they already know and trust, and within which they already have their established connection networks?
This could become the defining question in the lifecycle of the Clubhouse hype machine, which has used its invite-only FOMO factor to build a significant presence, but may end up losing out entirely due the very same restriction.
Given this, Clubhouse needs to work fast to expand quickly, while also improving its discovery algorithms in-step, and maximizing creator incentives to avoid losing its top broadcasters to these alternative tools.
Which is another element of focus. As you can see in the above tweet summary, Clubhouse is also still working on payments, another means to incentivize its top broadcasters to remain active in the app, in addition to its Creator Accelerator Program, which provides participants with support and $5k in monthly payment for the period that they’re a part of the scheme.
These are key elements that Clubhouse needs to get right, which will dictate where it goes next.
Will it be able to stand up in the face of rapidly rising competition, or will the challenge prove too great, and leave Clubhouse as the next Meerkat, an app that rose fast, then declined just as rapidly, before shutting down completely at just 17 months of age?
It’s still too early to call, but Clubhouse’s window does appear to be closing. It needs to prop it open with some big moves soon.
In addition to this, Clubhouse is also looking to add:
- New prompts for listeners to follow a club after they’ve joined a room and tuned in for “a few minutes”
- An improved RSVP flow for individual events, separate from following a Club or speaker
- A new addition for profiles which will list upcoming events to better promote participation
These are obviously smaller, but still helpful tweaks – and it’s worth also noting that Clubhouse has a dedicated, passionate user base, who have formed strong communities within the app.
Given this, Clubhouse may still be able to hold its own, and carve out its own niche.
Again, its next moves will be critical in this respect.
Ahead of World Cup, influencer ‘Mr Q’ lifts veil on Qatar
Khalifa Al Haroon, known to his followers as Mr Q, has become a social media hit by partially lifting the veil on World Cup host Qatar – Copyright AFP KARIM JAAFAR
At a time when prickly questions are being asked about Qatar and its hosting of the World Cup, Khalifa Al Haroon offers a smile, a sigh and a shrug as he seeks to explain its mysteries.
Known to his growing number of followers as Mr Q, the 38-year-old has become a social media hit by partially lifting the veil over the tiny but mega-rich Gulf state that describes itself as a “conservative” Islamic country.
The first World Cup in an Arab nation has put a spotlight on Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers, gender rights and even the use of air conditioning in stadiums.
Haroon’s cheerful #QTip videos broach everything from saying “Hello” in Arabic to the right way for men to wear the flowing ghutra headdress. There is also an edition on labour rights.
With less than 60 days to the November 20 start of the tournament, he now has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and more than 115,000 on YouTube. And the numbers keep growing.
Qatar has dozens of online influencers on topics ranging from “modest” but expensive fashion, to the latest sports car being imported into what is now one of the world’s wealthiest nations.
Haroon carved out his niche by elucidating Qatar’s unknowns to its growing expat community — and now the hordes of football fans expected for the World Cup.
Haroon — who was born to a Qatari father and British mother and spent 16 years in Bahrain — said he was first confronted by global stereotypes about Qatar and the Middle East while studying for a law degree in Britain.
He had wanted to become an actor, but instead launched his social media presence in 2008 with a blog.
“I was in the perfect position because I was a Qatari who has never lived properly in Qatar,” he said.
– ‘Trust your own eyes’ –
“In essence, I was like a foreigner in my own country and so I had the same questions that foreigners did, and so it just made it easy for me to start putting together information.”
Haroon said there has to be a distinction between “negative news” and misinformation about his country.
“When it comes to fake news, obviously, I think everybody understands that it’s not true and so the only thing that I could do is show people videos and pictures and show them what we’re really like because you can trust your own eyes.”
Some people, he said, have told him they decided to move to Qatar after watching his videos.
Haroon, who is now a consultant to the Qatar Football Association and an eSports entrepreneur, said he is excited about the World Cup “because people can now come here and experience it for themselves and make their own judgements instead of just believing what’s written”.
His main grouse is how outsiders see something negative about Qatar and then believe that all Qataris “accept it or we all agree with it”.
Many supporters of the 31 foreign countries who will play in Qatar have raised concerns, however, about the welcome awaiting them. Can they drink? And what will happen to same-sex couples in a country where homosexuality is illegal?
The government has insisted that beer, normally restricted, will be available and that everyone is welcome. Haroon wants outsiders to experience “real Qatari hospitality”, with its food and coffee culture.
“Of course there are going to be certain social norms,” said Haroon. “What we are asking for is just respect the country. And of course the country will definitely be respecting everyone that comes.”
“Some people might make mistakes because they don’t know what the rules are and that’s OK,” he added.
“The point is our culture is all about intention, our religion is about intention, so as long as you have good intentions and you want to do the right thing, you have nothing to worry about.”
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