Live audio chat app Clubhouse has garnered immense interest from internet users and corporations alike during the pandemic. Now that some people are vaccinated and moving about in the real world again, the Clubhouse app seems to have lost some of its appeal. And by that we mean a lot of its appeal.
The Clubhouse app was downloaded 72 percent fewer times in March than in February, according to data from Sensor Tower. The COVID-19 vaccine is rapidly bringing people together again in physical settings — and all of a sudden the prospect of participating in virtual chats just isn’t so interesting.
The general public has spoken: chatroom apps just aren’t as cool as they were a few months ago. And yet internet companies are still rushing to catch up to Clubhouse. It’s looking a lot like the trend will be DOA by the time they do.
A polarizing experience — It’s undeniable that Clubhouse has had a massive start to 2021. The company behind the app finished out its last round of funding with a valuation of $4 billion, and even with its steep decline, Clubhouse was downloaded more than three million times last month. That’s nothing to sneer at.
Clubhouse has garnered all this attention because it’s unique in the social media sphere: live audio rooms for up to 5,000 people, with the ability to drop in and out at any time. This new kind of social media experience has been loved by some and completely hated by others.
Those on the fence about Clubhouse probably haven’t been swayed in a positive direction by the company’s recent security scandal, in which 1.3 million user records were leaked.
Audio is still in — Clubhouse’s rise and fall can be mapped almost exactly to the movement of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shut inside with nothing to do? Perfect time to jump into some Clubhouse rooms. While you’re having a picnic or grabbing drinks on the terrace? Not so much.
Dwindling download numbers aside, Clubhouse has proven that there’s genuine interest in audio-only social experiences. Facebook, the OG social network, is releasing live audio rooms of its own in the next few months, as well as a short-form audio feed called Soundbites. Reddit and Spotify are working on direct Clubhouse competitors as well.
Clubhouse has paved the way for an entirely new sector of the social media market — that much is undoubtedly true. The slew of incoming copycats could be doomed to fail, though, if current download numbers and vaccination trends continue.