New York-headquartered Clubhouse, an invite-only audio social media platform, is gearing up for the launch of its Android app in India, a week after launching its beta version for U.S. users.
Since its initial launch in March 2020, Clubhouse has been an iPhone-only app and has totally alienated Android users. The release of its Android app in India, the world’s second-most populous country, is a part of Clubhouse’s global expansion strategy to tap two billion Android users. The platform lets users talk and listen to others in real-time and accommodates groups of up to 5,000 people in private chat rooms.
Backed by heavyweights such as Andreessen Horowitz, Tiger Global, and DST Global, Clubhouse became viral earlier this year as high-profile personalities like SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, and Naval Ravikant, former CEO of AngelList participated in closed-room conversations on its platform.
The company that’s valued at USD 4 billion plans to release the Android app in Japan, Brazil, and Russia on Tuesday; India and Nigeria on Friday morning, and the rest of the world by Friday afternoon, it said in a tweet. Last week, following the launch in the U.S., Clubhouse made its app available on Android in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
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In a blog announcing its Android app on May 9, the company said it has always “taken a measured approach to growth,” because “when you scale communities too quickly, things can break.”
“So we started Clubhouse on a single platform and have expanded gradually through an invite model,” it said. “As a part of the effort to keep the growth measured, we will be continuing the waitlist and invite system, ensuring that each new community member can bring along a few close friends.”
The startup, however, added that it plans to open up even further going forward, “welcoming millions of more people in from the iOS waitlist, expanding language support, and adding more accessibility features.”
“Earlier this year, Clubhouse started growing very quickly, as people all over the world began inviting their friends faster than we had ever expected,” the startup wrote. “This had its downsides, as the load stressed our systems—causing widespread server outages and notification failures, and surpassing the limits of our early discovery algorithms.”
Clubhouse said it made the company shift its focus to hiring, fixing, and company building, rather than focusing on community meetups and product features.
This is perhaps why the startup saw its app downloads spiral down over the past couple of months.
According to a Business Insider report, that cited Sensor Tower data, Clubhouse’s global downloads were 922,000 in April, down 66% from 2.7 million installs in March, and a mere 10% of whopping 9.6 million in February.
In India, where Apple phones command only 3% of the overall smartphone market, Clubhouse registered 14,000 downloads in April, compared to 20,000 in March and a peak of 42,000 in February, as per a report by local media Economic Times. Clubhouse garnered about 6,700 downloads until May 16, the report added.
While on one hand, Clubhouse has been striving to maintain the growth trajectory that it witnessed at the beginning of this year, on the other hand, it has to prepare itself to fend off the competition from the big tech giants jumping into the audio-only social networking space.
Companies like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, Spotify, and LinkedIn, among others, have emerged as competitors to Clubhouse. They have either launched a Clubhouse clone or are in the process of launching one. Twitter’s Spaces, is already pegged as the biggest rival to Clubhouse.
In India, homegrown startup Leher, which enables users to hold live audio and video discussion clubs rose to fame on the back of the Clubhouse frenzy in the last few months. Meanwhile, the founding team of short video app Chingari, which recently raised USD 13 million, has launched a made-in-India Clubhouse alternative, Fireside, which supports regional languages like English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada.
Releasing an Android app is crucial for Clubhouse to arrest its falling downloads and lure new users away from the tech titans as well as regional players.