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Viral spread: Clubhouse hype: audio social media app overtakes Telegram

Berlin (dpa) - Up to 50 euros for “Clubhouse Invite”. The invitations to the new audio app Clubhouse were not only in short supply and sought-after on the weekend in eBay classifieds.

After the Twitter competitor went viral in the USA last summer, the hype about the social media app from the US state of Utah has now reached Germany. The app can currently only be used on the iPhone, not on Android smartphones.

The hype around Clubhouse can also be seen in the top lists of downloads in the Apple App Store. On Monday, the audio application ousted the popular messenger service Telegram in Germany from second place on the list of the most frequently downloaded free applications in the Apple App Store. The messenger Signal is in first place.

Clubhouse is an audio app where users can listen to conversations like a live podcast or actively participate in discussions. In contrast to networks like Twitter, you cannot comment on posts in writing or assign "likes".

The provider Alpha Exploration Co from the Mormon city of Salt Lake City defines the app as “a new type of social service that is based on language and enables people all over the world to chat, tell stories, develop ideas, and make friends deepen and meet interesting new people ».

An artificial shortage belongs to the marketing concept of the clubhouse makers. Not only are all users of an Android smartphone left out. Most iPhone owners who have installed Clubhouse also have to wait to be able to use the app at all. You need an invitation from an active clubhouse user.

Clubhouse also uses a controversial method for viral distribution that was already the basis of WhatsApp's rapid growth. After installing the app and activating the invitation, the app requests access to all entries in the contacts address book of the iPhone used. This practice has been heavily criticized by data protectionists in Europe on WhatsApp, because users actually have to ask permission from each individual contact before the personal data is transferred to servers in the USA. But hardly anyone should do that.

The clubhouse members are also requested by the creators of the service as well as by the moderators of individual groups to link their profiles on other platforms and to comment on the content of the conversations there. This is intended to arouse the desire in networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to receive an invitation to the network as quickly as possible. Marketing experts call this approach “fear of missing out”.

Clubhouse's dubious data protection concept, which presumably also violates the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), did not prevent many influencers in Germany from jumping on the clubhouse bandwagon at the weekend. Over 1000 people gathered virtually in a clubhouse room where the digital minister in the Federal Chancellery, Dorothee Bär (CSU), discussed the “Diversity Year 2021” with entrepreneur Tijen Onaran, journalist Niddal Salah-Eldin and many others.

Clubhouse was started in April 2020 and initially triggered a boom in the USA during the corona crisis, reminiscent of the beginnings of WhatsApp or Snapchat. The venture capitalist Andreessen Horowitz, who also invested early in Silicon Valley stars such as AirBnB, Facebook, Instagram, Lyft and Twitter, put twelve million dollars in Clubhouse in May 2020. The start-up was valued at 100 million dollars (currently 82.78 million euros) - at a time when only 1,500 users were actively using the application. These included prominent users such as the rapper Drake, the comedian Kevin Hart and the US actress Tiffany Haddish.

In the Clubhouse app, users can take on various roles. As moderators, they can start audio chats and bring other users onto the stage and hand over the microphone to them. Speakers actively participate in the discussion. However, the majority of users are limited to a listener role. But you can virtually raise your hand to draw the moderator's attention if you want to contribute to the discussion.

With the first big wave of clubhouse on the German-speaking Internet, a new wave of invitations is now coming onto the market. This can also be seen in the average prices that eBay classifieds charge for it. The last fell to 15 euros.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210118-99-68180 / 7

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