Cross-messaging platform Telegram on Sunday, 21 March announced ‘Voice Chats 2.0’ in a bid to take on popular invite-only platform Clubhouse.
This means that users will now be able to host voice chats and listen to audio sessions through the app. Telegram first introduced this feature in December 2020, and now the same feature is being extended to channels.
Earlier last month, Twitter introduced Spaces – an audio-based platform soon after Clubhouse took the internet by storm after Billionaire and SpaceX founder Elon Musk joined it.
Meanwhile, India launched its homegrown audio-based platform ‘Leher’ – the brainchild of Vikas Malpani and Atul Jaju.
According to a report by The Hindu, “India has emerged as the third-largest podcast listening market in the world after China and the US”. But, why are Indians switching to audio platforms? Here’s what we know.
Why Are Indians Switching to Audio-Based Platforms?
There are several factors responsible for making audio-based platforms in India. This includes advancement of internet technology which enables users to communicate in a live space without any mechanical disruption.
“As bandwidth increased from year 2015 to 2018 more and more people started coming online and bandwidth consumption increased significantly, this permitted users to switch and try out different streaming platforms,” Vikas Malpani, CEO, Leher told The Quint.
“Majority of people that we have around the globe are not very savvy on text or written languages, so naturally what they find the easiest and reliable is audio-based platforms,” he added.
The routine posts on social media platforms is another factor responsible for this shift towards audio platforms. Users are in general bored with social media which is designed to share written content and photographs as opposed to ‘live interaction’ – which is sidelined.
“Lot of audio worthy content has been delivered via video platforms due to a lack of choice, audio always has been the primary means of information transfer for ages together, now with the proliferation of pureplay audio platforms consumers are getting what they always wanted, minimum screen engagement and latent content consumption,” Sandeep Singh, Co Founder and President, Khabri, an audio platform based in India, told The Quint.
Is Clubhouse Responsible for This Shift?
After SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk hosted an audio-chat with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev, thousands of people rushed to gain access to the exclusive 'invite-only' social media platform Clubhouse.
The audio-based app created a lot of buzz to an extent that a market for buying an invitation to the app was started on Reddit, eBay and Craiglist social networks.
Following which, Indians started to look for other audio app alternatives just to experience something different from the mainstream social media. The demand towards an audio-based feature forced apps like Twitter and Telegram to introduce voice features.
“Prior to audio-based platforms, users were only doing content consumption, now what is happening is that more and more people are shifting towards discussion. This is the whole idea of Leher, have conversation make friends, talk about similar interest on audio as well as video,” Malpani added.
‘Audio Platforms Need of The Hour’
Social media platforms should ideally pave a way for you to connect with more people. However, a study suggests otherwise.
According to a study by BBC, about 40 percent of the people from the 16-24 year age group experienced loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group included in the survey.
The study suggests that the people who felt lonely had a larger number of 'online only' friends on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. However, Malpani believes that this is because of the lack of real conversation. “We can only kill loneliness – which can later transform into depression – through audio based-platforms where users can engage in real conversation to form newer networks.”