The popularity of Clubhouse has been well documented. Anna Wiener, writer at The New Yorker, describes the app as a “drop-in audio social network that enabled the creation of voice-only chat rooms”. I think that’s a fair interpretation. For many, Clubhouse has been a unifying platform during a pandemic that often seems endless. That being said, the technical concept behind the app is relatively simple in the grand scheme of things, and other tech companies are coming up with their own renditions.
Facebook Live Messenger Rooms
The New York Times first reported the development of Facebook Live Messenger Rooms back in February, pointing out that the tech giant is “known in Silicon Valley for being willing to clone its competitors”.
Alessandro Paluzzi, a mobile developer and self-described “leaker” noted the way Facebook’s live audio rooms product is being developed would allow for rooms that anyone on Facebook could join, and such “could be accessible from Facebook itself — meaning you would not have to switch to Messenger to join a room. When not expanded to full-screen, the room would display its title, the number of speakers, and total listeners so you could get an idea of the room’s popularity.”
Spotify / Locker Room
On Tuesday, Spotify announced it plans to acquire Betty Labs, the creators of Locker Room, a live audio app with a focus on sports.
In the next few months, Locker Room is expected to evolve into “an enhanced live audio experience for a wider range of creators and fans”.
Those new “rooms” or communities would cater to writers, musicians, songwriters, as well as podcasters.
It’s interesting to note that Spaces will probably be available on Android devices before Clubhouse. At the time of writing, Clubhouse is only available on iOS through “invite only”. Alpha Exploration Co. (the app’s developer) believes it could launch an Android version around May 2021.
Instagram Live Rooms
Announced in early March, Instagram users are now be able to use “Live Rooms” to broadcast with three other people.
Instagram’s prior livestream feature allowed only two people to stream at the same time.
Slack live feature
On March 25, Protocol reported that Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield had stated that the business communication platform would “soon offer a feature akin to the audio-chat app Clubhouse, which allows users to drop into rooms for conversations without requiring scheduling a meeting or initiating a call”.
Few details exist beyond those words.
Discord’s Stage Channels
Discord, the communication platform which has gained significant traction in the gaming community, is also releasing a live room feature. “Stage Channels” is available now on all platforms where Discord is available; namely: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and web browsers.
Prior to Stage Channels, Discord already introduced “voice channels”, which enable users in them to talk freely. In contrast, Stage Channels are designed to only allow certain people talk at once to a group. It’s important to note that not all users have the admin privileges to create those.
It’s too early to tell if the Clubhouse “clones” can be long term avenues for users, especially considering the originator is still in its infancy. But one thing is for sure: tech companies are willing to fill the “live audio seats” as soon as possible, hoping the communication format will seduce their respective audiences.