Facebook to launch Clubhouse-style live audio rooms, direct podcast playback also incoming

By: |
April 20, 2021 4:54 PM

Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Monday the company planned to launch several audio products, including Clubhouse-style live audio rooms and a way for users to find and play podcasts.

The rapid growth of the year-old app Clubhouse has demonstrated the potential of audio chat services.

Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Monday the company planned to launch several audio products, including Clubhouse-style live audio rooms and a way for users to find and play podcasts.

Facebook’s incursion into the audio market comes as the sudden explosion of interest in Clubhouse, an audio app where billionaires and celebrities including Tesla CEO Elon Musk have popped in to chat, could be waning. Downloads of the Clubhouse app, which is only available on Apple’s iOS devices, suffered an estimated 70% decline in downloads in March from February when it hit a high.

Zuckerberg said the world’s largest social media network planned in the coming months to launch features including short-form audio clips called “Soundbites” and ways to create sound effects or improve audio quality. Facebook said in a blog post it would begin to test live audio rooms, which would launch by the summer.
Zuckerberg said Facebook was looking to “treat audio as a first-class medium in the way that we would photos or video” in an interview on Discord with Casey Newton, editor of newsletter Platformer.

The rapid growth of the year-old app Clubhouse has demonstrated the potential of audio chat services.

What is not clear is if Clubhouse, which just closed a new round of Series C funding in which a source said it was valued at $4 billion, will have staying power as installs decline.

The app, which is not yet available on Android, faces competition from multiple companies working on Clubhouse clones. Twitter Inc is testing its live audio feature Spaces, along with new features from Discord, Microsoft-owned LinkedIn, Slack and Spotify Technology.

Reddit also unveiled a preview of its “Reddit Talks” product to moderators on Monday.

Analytics firm Sensor Tower estimated Clubhouse had a 72% decline in growth from about 9.6 million February installs to about 2.4 million in March.

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