YICHANG, CHINA – APRIL 7, 2021 – A mobile phone shows the Facebook interface, Yichang, Hubei … [+]
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Facebook is planning a clubhouse rival called Hotline, and I couldn’t be less interested.
I’ve written a couple of times now about being a fan of Clubhouse because it’s an app that tried something new (namely, an audio chat that feels like an interactive podcast). My favorite convoy so far has probably been the one with a group of social media influencers sharing some surprisingly honest details about what it means to be influential in the first place.
I’ve now interviewed writers, held some pitch sessions, and even joined a panel to talk about emerging entrepreneurship. It’s a fun, simple, and useful app that takes a prominent place on my home screen. I’ve been known to use it while driving (sometimes backing up, hands-free of course) and in some cases stopping by unannounced and joining some people to chat about the ads for books (like the one I had) working on it ).
I don’t like it when copycats try to steal the thunder of a rising star, especially when it comes to side projects of big companies like Facebook. Stick to the baby photos, okay? The clubhouse is trying to break new ground and if the imitation app like the hotline breaks into that area too early, it slows the growth cycle.
It could be argued that imitation is a form of flattery, but I’d rather watch and see the clubhouse develop without a massive corporate monolith stealing the show.
The hotline is in a private beta but purports to offer several innovations that surpass the clubhouse. You can speak to an audience and answer questions via audio or video. The app will allow you to record the session and possibly sell the recording to people who missed it. The dark and mysterious user interface, at least on the home page, is trendy and cool. In fact, it might be a better app and it has more potential, but I still plan to stick with Clubhouse.
One reason is that the hotline doesn’t really serve the audience. Influencers don’t have to segment any more. The clubhouse is trying to gain massive market share and I would say it’s a rocky time. People are picky. The app is new and novel, but that could also mean it is losing momentum in the blink of an eye.
With apps like these, the goal is to build and engage an audience. If they switch to another app or the market splits too much, everyone loses. This includes the people trying to build their followers, the audience looking for rich content and engaging conversation, and even the startup companies trying to create new features. It’s not that flattering when a copycat comes along and watches the number of users slide down.
It is also true that this competition will fuel innovation. I was thinking of a good definition of innovation the other day and that applies here. For me, that almost always means building something that neither of us knew we needed. I am thinking of social media itself or of livestream services or of a way to pay for products with our phones. Forget the moment of the lightbulb. It’s more like you’re in a dark room and someone finds the light switch. Suddenly we can see in the dark. It is innovative because it is new and useful.
For me the clubhouse is like that.
I was able to make new connections, learn a thing or two about book authorship, and discover new products after my pitch sessions. Hotline might even be a better app, but really? Let’s at least give Clubhouse a chance first.