What is Clubhouse app and why is it suddenly everywhere?
Part talkback radio, part conference call, part Houseparty, Clubhouse is a social networking app based on audio-chat. Users can listen in to conversations, interviews and discussions between interesting people on various topics – it is just like tuning in to a podcast but live and with an added layer of exclusivity.
Clubhouse is invite only. You can’t just download it off the app store and create an account. Much like a real-life country or yacht club, you have to be invited to join by an existing member. Real world elitism, but make it virtual.
When you join, you select topics of interest, like tech, books, business or health. The more information you give the app about your interests, the more conversation rooms and individuals the app will recommend you follow or join.
The conversation room is just like a conference call, but with some people on the call talking, and most listening in. And, just like a phone call, once the conversation is over, the room is closed. Unlike Twitch – where live streamed videos stay on the platform for people to return to and watch – the live audio-chats had in conversation rooms disappear. (However, this doesn’t stop users from recording the live conversation.
How do I get a Clubhouse invite?
To join, an existing Clubhouse user has to send an invite from their app giving you access to set up an account. If you are invited, you’ll see a link texted to your phone number, directing you to a sign-up page in the app.
Clubhouse users can’t just send an invite to anyone who wants to join, however. Existing users only have two invites available at first.
Why was it so popular in China?
The app’s value extends beyond its exclusivity.
While censorship, suppression and government control is rife in China, Clubhouse managed to fly under the radar of China’s firewall for several months, unlike other social media networks Instagram and Facebook. It became very popular in recent weeks, attracting large numbers of Chinese users and giving them a rare chance to “binge free expression”, and engage in discussion on topics that are usually blocked on the mainland, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Quartz reported that “Chinese users, largely tech investors and professionals, are using the space to talk about topics that would otherwise be censored back home, such as democracy.”
E-commerce sites in China were offering hopeful users of Clubhouse the chance to buy invites. On platforms like Xianyu and Taobao, invite codes were being sold for between 150 – 400 yuan ($23 – $61).
As of Monday 8 February 2021, however, Clubhouse has been blocked inside China.
How did CH become popular?
Clubhouse was launched last year around March, just when the pandemic streamlined remote communication around the world, by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Rohan Seth and Paul Davidson. Initially, the app had only 1,500 users while its net worth was $100 million.
But when Tesla CEO Elon Musk organised a Clubhouse session with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev, the influx of users became out of control. This event saw Clubhouse maxing out at its user capacity, propelling the app to the top of the startup charts. This sudden popularity led people to jostle for invitations so that they can be a part of the Clubhouse app. As of February 1, Clubhouse had 2 million users worldwide. And this figure is for the app when it is in the beta stage. These invites have become coveted, so much so that they are up for sale for insane prices on Craigslist, eBay, and Reddit among others.
Can you use CH in India?
Yes. it is accessible on the iOS platform in India. You just need to have an invite to sign up for the service and start using it. Clubhouse does not belong to a Chinese firm, which is why the potential of it getting blocked by the Indian government is very less. In India, it recorded over 8,000 downloads last month and has witnessed a total of 12,000 downloads, as per Sensor Tower.
But with all this talk Apps like Telegram and Instagram also have their popularity and performance.