US social network Clubhouse unlikely be popular in China: analysts
Published: Feb 03, 2021 09:17 PM

A woman listens to an audiobook through the Ximalaya FM platform at a booth at the Shanghai Book Fair in 2015. Photo: IC

US audio-only social app Clubhouse has become phenomenally hot in recent days, with even many Chinese netizens seeking invitation codes on Twitter-like Sina Weibo, but Chinese analysts said that this app is unlikely see a surge in China as US internet products are no longer role models for Chinese technology companies.

Clubhouse and "clubhouse invitation code" are trending on Sina Weibo, and many are asking for an invitation code or sharing their experience of trying the app under these hashtags. On China's eBay-like secondhand online marketplace Xianyu, the price for the code is around 400 yuan ($61.92), while the price is $97 on eBay.

While many are attracted by the rich range of topics on Clubhouse, especially such high-profile figures as Tesla CEO Elon Musk, there are also many users who think that the Silicon Valley-based app is nothing creative but similar to Chinese real-time voice service apps such as Lizhi Inc and

A Sina Weibo user named SAYOKI_VX said in a post on Wednesday that he deleted the app after using it for an hour. 

"It's like joining a cocktail party where different groups of people chat about a variety of topics, some of which you can get a word in and some you can't, so that you just walk around to see what people are talking about," the net user said, adding that he will not waste time talking with strangers if they have no relationship in real life.

The user said that the app's popularity in the US may be attributed to prolonged social distancing in the US amid the severe pandemic, not to how remarkable the product itself is.

Internet industry analysts said that the app may have no market in China given that its operation is based on the participation of celebrities rather than technologies and high-quality content.

It's worth mentioning that Agora, the Chinese company that may have provided technologies for the app's livestreaming audio, soared to an intra-day high of 44 percent on Monday to hit $81.48 per share in Nasdaq.

Some Chinese technology companies are becoming world leaders, and US internet companies' products are no longer benchmarks for Chinese rivals any more, Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based internet analyst, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"From the popularity of domestic online audio-sharing platform Ximalaya FM, we can see that audio services are a good direction for internet products but whether Clubhouse can be a success is uncertain, given its loose bonds among users," said a Shenzhen-based internet industry analyst surnamed Zhang.

Social networking is the foundation of Clubhouse but there are apps such as Sina Weibo and WeChat in China that offer a variety of communication scenarios, and therefore it's hard for Clubhouse to duplicate its community, Zhang said, noting that celebrities' comments offer only temporary attraction for users.