Social audio app Clubhouse saw a surge in adoption in February, reaching 9.6 million installs globally that month. Although Clubhouse's download velocity has slowed since then, the social audio space is heating up with competition from long-time contenders and newcomers alike. Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data reveals the three largest drop-in social audio apps have reached nearly 20 million installs so far this year, led by Clubhouse with approximately 15.3 million globally.
Clubhouse's worldwide installs quadrupled month-over-month in February, climbing 300 percent from 2.4 million in January to 9.6 million. While the app's downloads fell 72 percent to 2.7 million in March, that was still up 13 percent from January. The app has now reached approximately 16.4 million installs to date, the majority of which occurred this year.
Clubhouse wasn't the only social audio app to see a sudden spike in February followed by a constricting growth in March. Social audio platform Stereo saw its installs climb 172 percent from about 551,000 in January to 1.5 million in February. In March, it saw its downloads fall 35 percent from February to about 980,000 globally.
While Clubhouse and Stereo both launched in 2020, Spoon debuted in 2016. To date, it has seen over 26 million installs globally; comparatively, Stereo has reached about 3.7 million and Clubhouse approximately 16.4 million.
Despite its longevity, Spoon didn't see a boost in February 2021. Rather, it experienced a lift in installs in 2020 and saw its best-month ever in April of last year when it hit about 974,000 downloads globally. Last year, the app reached approximately 10 million installs worldwide, up 13 percent from nearly 9 million in 2019.
Spoon's boost in 2020 seems to indicate that it benefited from users looking for social connections during COVID-19 lockdowns. Its installs declined in early 2021, potentially due to consumers being faced with high profile alternatives such as Clubhouse and Stereo.
Clubhouse's popularity has been attributed to myriad reasons, including screen-weary consumers looking for alternative entertainment, the allure of an exclusive invite-only app, and the spontaneous serendipity of celebrities such as Elon Musk dropping in to join informal chats on the platform. The advantages of the social audio medium have attracted tech titans such as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, each of which have announced or rolled out similar features in their own apps.
However, every platform will also have to deal with the inherent challenges of social media, such as monetization and moderation. As more publishers implement social audio in their apps, they will have to find ways to deal with these challenges and compete for the attention of consumers in a world where in-person spaces are beginning to reopen.