Social audio app Clubhouse has now promised a time frame of sorts for the launch of its anticipated Android version, following its recent hire of an Android software developer last month. In its weekly Townhall event on Sunday, Clubhouse co-founder Paul Davison remarked that the company was working “really hard” to come to Android, but said it’s going to take a “couple of months” to make that happen. That seems to indicate a time frame that’s closer to late spring or summer 2021.
Clubhouse had previously said in a late January blog post that it would begin work on its Android version “soon,” but had not yet promised any sort of time frame as to when it would be able to bring that version to the public. Instead, most of its statements about Android have been vague mentions of the importance of supporting the Android user base and making its app more accessible to a wider audience.
In the meantime, Clubhouse’s biggest rival, Twitter Spaces, has been taking advantage of Clubhouse’s delay to address the sizable Android user base by rapidly rolling out support to more people across platforms. This month, for example, Twitter Spaces opened up to Android users, allowing anyone on Android to join and talk inside its live audio rooms. Shortly thereafter, Twitter said that it plans to publicly launch Twitter Spaces to the general public in April. That would be well ahead of Clubhouse, unless the latter rapidly speeds up development and drops its invite-only status in the weeks ahead.
During Sunday’s Clubhouse Townhall, co-founder Davison explained the company’s approach to scaling to a larger market — like one where Android users participate — as an effort that requires a slower pace, when it comes to opening up access to more users. He noted that when Clubhouse grows, the discovery experience inside the app can be negatively impacted as a result. Users today are seeing more foreign language groups in their feeds, for instance, and are having a harder time finding friends and some of the best content, he said.
To address these challenges, Clubhouse plans to make several changes, including tweaks to the app’s Activity feed, tools to give users more control over their push notifications, and the launch of more personalization features — like showing users a personalized list of suggested rooms that appear on screen when you first open the app. These sorts of improvements are necessary to make Clubhouse succeed even as it scales its app to a larger user base, the company believes.
That said, Davison also spoke of dropping Clubhouse’s invite-only status as something it hopes to do “in the coming months.” He noted that he wants the app to open up to everyone, because there are “so many incredible creators not yet on Clubhouse, who have an audience elsewhere.”
“It’s going to be really important that we just open up to everyone,” Davison said. “Android’s going to be really important. Localization is obviously going to be very important.” Plus, making Clubhouse more accessible was important, too, he said.
The lack of an Android version of Clubhouse has already caused some complications for the company.
A number of Android app developers have taken advantage of the hole left in the market to hawk their “Clubhouse guides,” which intentionally aim to confuse Android users looking for Clubhouse by using the same app icon. (Google apparently doesn’t bother to weed out low-value and/or infringing content like this from the Play Store.)
"clubhouse" on android pic.twitter.com/uFtilOislC
— Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa) March 2, 2021
More recently, cybercriminals have gotten in on the action, too. They’ve created fake versions of Clubhouse that even pointed to a well-executed copy of the Clubhouse website in order to trick users into downloading their malicious app. One of these apps has been found to be spreading BlackRock malware, which steals users’ login credentials for over 450 services, including Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.
Davison addressed this issue during the Townhall, warning users that if they see anyone trying to impersonate Clubhouse on Android, not to use that app because “it could be harmful.”
“It is certainly not the real Clubhouse. Same thing with PC. There’s no PC app for Clubhouse,” he said, adding that a desktop version of Clubhouse is not a high priority for the company.
The company made a number of other announcements, as well, the most notable being its plans for more creator tools. These will be focused on helping creators grow their own audiences for their shows, and even monetize their events, if they choose, through things like direct payments, subscriptions, brand sponsorships and even “paid events.” Clubhouse will also offer tools for managing memberships and tracking metrics around listeners and retention, but overall, details were light on what specific tools would be available or when they would roll out.
Clubhouse didn’t offer an on-record comment about the statements made during its Townhall event, but pointed out it had hired its first Android engineer and said it’s working on making Clubhouse available on Android as soon as possible.
Updated 3/23/21, 10:30 AM ET: Clubhouse replied to our request for comment; post has been updated to include.
10 VCs say interactivity, regulation and independent creators will reshape digital media in 2021