Proving that anything can be marketed, several companies are attempting to cash in on platforms that offer users the chance to casually chat with their colleagues. Like the good old days.

 

 

Are we tired of video yet? After months of videos chats and binge-watching streaming videos, people are turning to audio digital platforms in order to connect with others.

The exclusive networking app Clubhouse, from Alpha Exploration Co., has turned their focus to the space, though they’re not the only ones—Yac, Space Soft Inc. and Watercooler are all looking to fill the demand.

“People are tired of looking at screens,” said Gabriel Cheung, group creative director at R/GA, a digital agency owned by Interpublic Group of Cos. “They are looking for different ways of experiencing things.”

Watercooler, a voice platform several companies are flirting with, aims to bring office banter to employees still stuck working from home. Users set up new rooms for conversations or join an existing one.

Russ d’Sa, the co-founder of Watercooler, envisions the platform as a place where colleagues get to know each other informally, as opposed to yet another productivity app.

“How do you connect with the people that you spend eight-plus hours a day with? You spend the majority of your life with these people,” Mr. d’Sa said. “And now that connection, that connective tissue is gone, and it’s all just about work.”

 

“How do you connect with the people that you spend eight-plus hours a day with? You spend the majority of your life with these people,” Mr. d’Sa said. “And now that connection, that connective tissue is gone, and it’s all just about work.”

 

In contrast, Yac Media has decidedly pitched its service as a productivity tool. Justin Mitchell, chief executive of Yac, understands the importance of hearing another human versus an avatar on the screen but recognises that video meetings can be intrusive and require people to block out time in their day.

It may be some time before we see one app dominate the audio-connection space; these types of apps have a low barrier to entry, being relatively simple to develop and in turn easy to copy.

To find a winning formula, developers should focus on the user experiences, says Danika Laszuk, general manager of Betaworks Camp, and an investor in Yac. She added that audio platforms that generate a constant stream of conversation can create extra mental clutter for users, most of whom would already be juggling various other communications platforms. She views apps that “provide programmed experiences—facilitating conversation at a set time, or topic” as the solution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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