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If ‘having a voice’ is the way moving forward, what’s coming to take Clubhouse on?

Dubbed the new social media star, Clubhouse has been all the rage this week. The drop-in audio app, which has no text or video communication of any form, functions as a part social networking, part Zoom call, part podcast platform.

The app became ultra-buzzy when it was christened by Elon Musk as the new elite ‘hangout spot’. After all, it’s still invite-only for now, much like real-life golf and country clubs, and the privileged few who have had the chance to explore it haven’t stopped talking about it.

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Musk’s ‘endorsement’ generated a lot of eyeballs and a slew of downloads in the following days after. In fact, according to data from app experts Appfigures, Clubhouse has just broken the three million download threshold, with 10 per cent of the latest downloads, representing 1.1 million, happening in just 10 days.

The question is if Clubhouse will be able to sustain the momentum. Already, the app faced criticism on its home ground for its lack of effective content moderation and abuse-prevention practices. Clubhouse has also just been blocked in China after a brief moment of ‘free speech’.

Amid the growing popularity of Clubhouse, here are some contenders that are already in the pipeline, ready to take on the world of screen-less chat.

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Twitter Spaces

In November 2020, microblogging platform Twitter announced a new feature called Spaces, a Clubhouse-styled feature that would allow users to share audio content in chat rooms. Powered by Periscope, an American live video streaming app, Twitter first tested Spaces with its primary group of subjects including women and people from marginalised groups.

Calling it a ‘small experiment focused on the intimacy of human voice’, Spaces will also offer a range of other functions in its beta phase including live transcriptions, hand gestures, blocking, and reporting on top of the ability to share tweets.

While Clubhouse is invite-only, Spaces is now being beta-tested by 4,000 people and any Twitter user following them will be able to listen in to the Spaces rooms created by the beta testers. To further put this into perspective, there are currently 145 million daily active users and a whopping 330 million monthly active users on Twitter.

It’s safe to say that Twitter's Spaces will have no problem catching up when it officially launches once Twitter irons out the kinks.

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Fireside

American billionaire and Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban is also jumping on the audio bandwagon as he's planning to launch Fireside, a ‘next-gen podcast platform’ that facilitates live conversation.

Set to rival Clubhouse, the platform won't only enable creators to broadcast and monetise conversations but also allow them to natively record conversations, all while using Fireside’s built-in analytics tools to figure out what content performs best. Specific details about the service are unclear but a source close to the company had said that Fireside will be a highly curated experience as the app won’t let just anyone speak publicly. Its website describes it as a 'socially responsible platform'.

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Cuban is working with co-founder Falon Fatemi, once the youngest-ever Google employee, to roll out Fireside sometime this year.

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