What happened to Clubhouse app? This article will explore various reasons why the invite-only audio app is reportedly dying.
Clubhouse is a popular tech audio app that allows users to set up and join “rooms” to participate in conversations.
Clubhouse launched in April 2020, and it has quickly become one of the fastest-growing applications around.
They have now secured hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, with more than 10 million active users—all in less than a year since launch.
At first, everybody was talking about it, and the hype was high. But then suddenly people weren’t interested anymore. What happened?
The truth about building successful apps: it isn’t easy
Starting an app business seems easy enough to do these days, and many people likely think that all they have to do is build an app with a unique function and launch it on mobile platforms like iOS or Android.
The reality is that most apps won’t stand the test of time, and Clubhouse is a clear example of that.
What is clubhouse, and how does it work?
Clubhouse app is an invite-only, audio, social media app that was only available for iPhone users. That is until recently when they launched an Android version.
It’s that exclusivity factor that caused the Clubhouse app’s popularity to blow up.
You would need to get an invite from an existing user, sign up for an account, create your profile, and then find and join a “Club” before joining a room within your chosen club.
It sounds like one crazy party at a venue with multiple rooms to pick from, doesn’t it?
Well, that’s precisely the point.
“Clubs” are groups of people with a common interest in specific topics, similar to the Facebook or LinkedIn Groups feature. Rooms hosted by a club will now appear in your notification feed.
Tap on the room you want to join (or “drop-in” on) and start listening. When joining a room hosted by somebody else, you’ll automatically be put on mute, and the host can choose to unmute you throughout the conversation.
You can also host your own rooms and invite guests to join you, much like a webinar (with audio-only) or a teleconference (remember those? ah, the early days of the internets…).
Related: How to Use Clubhouse
What is clubhouse app used for?
It felt like Clubhouse had attempted to do something new with live interactive podcasts.
For those of us who have been around long enough, it felt like an updated version of audio-based teleconferences we had back in the ‘90s and early 2000s.
Why is clubhouse so popular?
When you limit access to the app to only iPhone users and make it invite-only, it’s that exclusivity factor that created a buzz around the tool.
Add to that that:
- You had appearances in various Clubhouse rooms from celebrities and public figures. For instance, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hosted a live-streamed chat in a Clubhouse room with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev. Musk quizzed the Robinhood CEO about the Gamestop fiasco only days after it went down.
Oh yeah, Elon managed to get permission from the Clubhouse founders to record his session. Funny that.
- There was also a lot of PR about the skyrocketing number of users and the crazy money that investors were putting into the app.
You also had tech influencers like Gary Vaynerchuck recommending the platform:
So what went wrong? How could an app with so much popularity virtually disappear from conversations on social media a few months later?
The rapid decline of Clubhouse
Google Trends data tells the story nicely of the quick rise and even quicker decline of Clubhouse app’s popularity.
Worldwide Google searches for “clubhouse app” started trending up from December 2020 at the time of launch and hit its peak in February 2021 when the hype machine was at full speed.
As you can see from the graph, interest in the app fell off a cliff in the consequent months. There was a bit of a bump in May 2021, and then popularity started declining again.
There are two main reasons for Clubhouse’s quick demise when it comes down to it- their lack of revenue model and a failure to solve a big enough problem.
7 Reasons Why Clubhouse is Dying
1. Covid lockdowns eased up
So people started meeting in person again, which is a far more enjoyable experience than listening to people on audio.
Benefits of meeting someone face to face:
- You will be able to see people’s body language and facial expressions
- You can have more in-depth conversations
- It is easier to build rapport with someone you meet in person than through an audio-only conversation.
- People are more likely to remember you if they met you face-to-face
- Allows for greater emotional connection and an increased feeling of empathy
- You can share a hug, high-five, elbow bump, or fist bump
So it’s not hard to see why folks would opt for the in-person meetup over the virtual audio-only one, right?
But hey, it was fun while it lasted.
2. No revenue model
For an app business to be sustainable, it needs to have a revenue model.
At first glance, Clubhouse appears to be free, and all anyone needs to do is download it from Google Play or iTunes. But does it really cost nothing? The answer to that question is, “No, it doesn’t cost nothing.”
Building and maintaining any app comes with costs such as labor, servers, marketing, and other such costs. An app business needs to have a revenue model to cover those costs- even if it’s in the form of a one-dollar price tag on an app purchase or some type of subscription/membership fee.
For an app to be sustainable over the long term, a developer must charge enough for each download to cover overhead costs and make a reasonable profit.
3. Clubhouse didn’t really solve a big enough problem
The app is not strong enough to survive on its own. Almost as soon as Clubhouse’s popularity took off, more prominent players in the social media space such as Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and even Spotify followed suit. They have all launched, or are developing, features to compete with Clubhouse. Remember what Facebook did to Snapchat?
4. Great for high-volume creators, but not everybody else
The app favors the high usage creator, but it’s not sticky enough for non-creators/influencers to keep returning after they’ve moved past the original hype and FOMO.
5. No ability to save, download or catch replays of conversations
I found this annoying, and it would appear other users felt the same way.
Who’s got time to sit on live Clubhouse calls for hours at a time when they’re trying to run a business, take care of their family, etc.?
6. App overload
The average smartphone user is using how many apps? According to a Deloitte Mobile Consumer survey, the number is about 25.
And that figure doesn’t include all of the apps and platforms they’ve signed up for online as well. So if you think about it, most people simply don’t have time to use every single app they download anymore (as much as I hate to admit it!).
When we’re already using many other apps that our friends and colleagues are on, why would we add one more – especially one that’s potentially a massive time suck?
Honestly, if my goal is to listen to experts share their tips, I’m far more likely to turn to my trusty Stitcher podcast app on my Android device and tune into my favourite podcasts. Alternatively, I’ll turn to Youtube. I find those far more interesting than the average Clubhouse room.
7. The issue of fake gurus and spammers on Clubhouse
One major issue that I observed with Clubhouse was fake gurus, i.e., individuals with questionable credibility using the platform to sell stuff and recruit people to their courses and programs.
These folks were using the app to promote their fake guru status with zero accountability.
Check out this video from popular fake guru exposer Coffeezilla where he chats with Jason Calacanis – serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and host of This Week in Startups – about the fake guru problem on Clubhouse.
Is there a chance that Clubhouse can still come out on top?
Yes, there’s always a possibility the Clubhouse story ends on a positive note.
The app has seen user numbers in India soaring this past month (June 2021).
The app’s future success will be determined by how its creators and development team proceed from here. They’ll need to pivot to compete with the more prominent players in the audio and social media space.
The recipe for an app to be successful over the long term
What could Clubhouse have done differently? Here are some lessons we can glean from the app’s experience to date. To build a sustainable app, you need to have the following:
- A strong core problem that you’re solving with your app or tool
- A revenue model that makes a lot of sense
- A growth strategy for launch and continued growth
- A retention strategy to keep users coming back. That’s what is often referred to as the “Stickiness” factor.
- Ongoing app development and innovation
Should YOU use Clubhouse for your business?
Well, only you can answer that question. To help you decide, here are some wise words to keep in mind.
Have you used Clubhouse? What’s been your experience? Let me know in the comments.