TECH TALK: BILL MAGEE on the emergence of the audio social app
Facetime is, apparently, so yesterday. It appears the lingering pandemic has led to many of us getting thoroughly fed up seeing each other via a video screen. A new generation of social apps, rather surprisingly based solely on audio, is heading in our direction. It’s the latest wheeze to boost a social media dollar that’s already worth tens of billions. “It’s good to talk,” goes the marketing slogan. It might have its advantages.
You’re enjoying what appears to be the perfect work-life balance, just you and the laptop, a quiet spot by the sea, and you’re about to impress senior colleagues with your masterplan to save the business in uncertain times.
But then you’re faced with a blurry screen jumping all over the place before disappearing altogether into cyberspace.
Then the mute button, without warning, assumes a life of its own. It all just adds to the stress. Tolerable as long as your face isn’t replaced by a cat. I mean, that’d be plain daft.
But you begin asking that if you see one more Zoom teleconference will it be one too many?
We are living in strange times. As we continue to virtually hibernate during lockdown significant numbers continue to rely largely on social, not physical, networking for company. As to be expected the social media market is booming.
Revenues are expected to top $50 billion in the States alone this year but it’s still not enough for the hard-nosed tech leviathans. So, get prepped for the audio social app that largely utilises the cloud in terms of cost savings and data control.
They’re banking on it carrying as great, if not greater resonance than well-established names on the video telephony front – Zoom, Teams, WhatsApp, Facetime, Skype et al. So what’s all this audio malarkey?
Significant market disruption involving apps with names like Clubhouse and Discord is under way. Unlike mobile one-to-one conversations, one can talk shop to fellow team members, even conduct vocal interactions with complete strangers. Risky.
It’s like listening in on a podcast, but where you can talk back. It hasn’t half unsettled the big tech boys. Twitter has already reacted to these upstarts by hastily creating its own sound-based social called Audio Spaces, under pressure as millions in the States are reported to have already switched on to Clubhouse.
Significantly, none other than Tesla tycoon Elon Musk has just done a podcast on Clubhouse, already valued at $1 billion. Wonder who’ll buy Clubhouse? With bitcoin?
This new generation of social is rapidly assuming mainstream status to shape the future of networking led by-and-large by younger folks – Millennials, especially Gen Z – who might actually be getting bored with well-established social networking “names.”
The podcast is a key term here, having its roots in the 1980s and previously known as audio-blogging. Along with music platforms like Apple Music and Spotify, one can readily imagine an individual working at/from home seamlessly switching from an integrated mix in their daily life involving earbuds, headphones, speakers etc.
It’s simply a case of adding endless chatting to the digital mix. Especially during worktime. Pretty soon social audio apps will be too numerous to list. As that precious tipping point to change our behaviour once again is achieved by the tech industry.
The takeaway? It’s good to talk wherever you are…