"Exclusives" are not new to the commercial world. It's a way corporations generate income by ensuring that consumers have to come to them for the products that they want. One industry where exclusives play a major role is the video game industry. Video games exclusive to the PS5 for example have undoubtedly contributed to its popularity over the Xbox. Even in music streaming, Taylor Swift has been going back and forth over exclusive deals with different platforms. In the smartphone market, OnePlus, who was the only manufacturer to record year-on-year market growth in the US in 2020, started off by exclusively selling its first smartphone on an invite-only basis. And when it comes to smartphone apps, some tend to launch exclusively on one platform before being made available to others, like Instagram. Recently, a new iOS-only app has been making the rounds in the news, and we've even been talking about it here on Cake - Clubhouse.
Clubhouse is currently iOS only, with the devs claiming that they wanted to start on a smaller platform first, out of concerns that launching on Android could be too big a task for their servers. A similar reasoning was behind OnePlus' invite-only sales. As a start-up company, they were concerned that if demand exceeded their supply they could be met with a lot of unhappy customers. Whatever the reason is behind Clubhouse's decision, this exclusivity seems to be generating a lot of hype for the platform, as all the media attention proves. It's basic economics I guess. The rarer something is, the more valuable it becomes. Being available on iOS only and with registrations requiring an invite, Clubhouse has created a distortion-field that equates being on the platform with being "special".
Of course, the downside to such exclusivity is limited growth. iOS is nowhere near as common as Android, and requiring an invite to sign-up will definitely slow down any potential growth. The devs might not mind this as they could have a long-term goal in mind, and they might be expecting the platform to grow even further once the exclusivity ends and Clubhouse is launched on Android and open to everyone without an invite. But will people still be interested by then? Will people still be clamouring to sign-up? Instagram went from being iOS-only to one of the biggest social networks in the world, but that was 10 years ago. Social media is already extremely saturated in 2021. Some newer sites like Vero are pretty much forgotten, and even MeWe isn't gaining much of a foothold (though the network did experience a surge in new users recently). Is there space for an audio-only social network in our digital lives when people already listen to so many podcasts?
Would Clubhouse have stood a better chance of breaking into the social media space if it just launched on both iOS and Android simultaneously without an invite system? Or will the hype generated by this exclusivity propel the social network forward once the exclusivity ends? What are your thoughts on exclusivity in general? Sound off below.