Clubhouse has created an entirely new category of media experience. A real-time conversation where a global audience can come together and listen to a speech or conversation, or any audio event, and where any audience member can be given the microphone and contribute thoughts or questions. This experience would only be possible with digital technology, the cloud, and real-time media services where there is zero latency. The CNN experience of a question only being answered after a few seconds delay can be a thing of the past. At the core of this is the capability to deliver interactive media, where a listener can also be a contributor. This has been possible before, but not at scale. A Zoom call that is streamed live to Youtube or Twitter or Facebook has an interactive core and an audience. But the two are separate. Clubhouse has integrated them in audio. Soon services like Millicast
will make it possible to do so with video too.
This will make a revolution in what kinds of services software creators can offer. Like watching your favorite team’s game whilst sitting in a digital “private box” with family or friends and being able to speak to each other. And then perhaps the field side camera pulling you into a half-time interview for your thoughts on the game.
So Clubhouse pre-figures a future that will roll out over the next ten years.
But it is also experiencing its first road bump, as all startups do. This week it was revealed that Clubhouse app downloads were 73% lower in March than in February. A rush of articles and Tweets focused on this. Leading this week’s That Was The Week is an article by Stanford Behavioural Designer, Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Product
. He explains what he describes as Clubhouse’s “fatal flaws”. After explaining that Clubhouse’s key gain is that it offers real-time “drop-in” audio he spells out that this new “habit” requires that there is always high-quality content 24/7 to drop in to.
While the app is red hot at the moment as hosts try it out for the first time, the company risks losing listeners if they can’t keep enough of the interesting content airing live around the clock. Users will abandon the habit if it doesn’t give them the instant entertainment they’re looking for.
I agree. The content quality, which equates to participant quality, will be the greatest challenge facing Clubhouse. Its fight with other real-time audio platforms (new ones this week announced by Linkedin and Spotify) will be won or lost on that.
Clubhouse is used by 2% of adult Americans. Facebook has 68%. That is a lot of future growth if Clubhouse can own the experience. I’m still betting on it. I suspect Twitter, Fireside, Facebook, Linkedin, Spotify will struggle with quality content more than Clubhouse.
Lots of other talking points in the sections below which we will cover in this week’s Video.