Welcome to (my) Houseparty!

DISCLAIMER: Houseparty is actually referring to a new app that has become extremely popular, not actual house parties! (Click here to read a fellow classmates post on clickbait)

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While on a trip down to New Jersey with a few cars worth of friends, I suggested that we download a walkie talkie app to stay entertained and connected during the trek.  I was overruled by one friend in favor of Houseparty, an app that few of us had heard of before.  Within just one week of using the app, I have seen a tremendous growth in the apps popularity.  And its justified!

The Details and A Whole Lot of Secrecy:

Houseparty is essentially the crossroads between Facetime and group chats.  The app allows you to join into a “party,” which is essentially a Facetime call that between 2-8 users.  When you click on the app, a notification is sent to all of your friends saying that you’re “in the house.”  If no one is online, you can “wave” to specific users, which sends a notifications inviting them to join your chat.  Occasionally a friend of a friend will join your chat.  The app notifies you with a banner warning of “stranger danger!”  When the users video connects a temporary option to add the user as a friend pops up in their portion of the screen. You also have the option to lock a group once you are in it to restrict others from joining. Below are some actual examples of the app in action:

I have grown to love the app, and spend quite a bit of time in “the house.” So much so that a friend of mine has started taking screenshots every time she gets a notification “Tyler O’Neill has entered the house.”  Once I heard about my reputation for my active participation in the app, I decided to look a bit deeper into the history of the app. What I found was shocking!

The company that built Houseparty is called Life on Air, and this is not its first attempt to enter the live stream market.  An article I read about the app claims that Life on Air “turned live-streaming into a sensation last year” with its app Meerkat.  Meerkat was the first mover in the live-streaming market, but after gaining popularity and raising $12 million in funding at South by Southwest they quickly were targeted by competitors.  Twitter released a more polished live-streaming service of it own called Periscope and Facebook implemented a live streaming service too.  When designing Houseparty, Life on Air took a new approach.

In order to avoid criticism they decided to launch their new app under a new name, Houseparty.  They also listed the developer as Alexander Herzick, the name of an employees husband, instead of themselves.  He was chosen due to “his almost nonexistent social media profile.”  As the app grew in popularity the company built fake Facebook and LinkedIn to support the illusion.  The company would respond to emails from potential venture capitalist “by send them Daft Punk GIFs.”  Only recently has it been revealed that Life on Air was the company responsible for making the live-streaming app.

The app seems to have a positive snowball effect.  Once a small group of users come online it quickly develops into a full “party,” and can even spill over into multiple smaller groups. The big question for Houseparty is “can it last?”

Can It Last?:

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Personally I think that the app will last.  The app provides a service unique to other social media, which require posts or messages.  Houseparty allows you to instantly connect with your friends, in real time, anywhere!  Ben Rubin, the CEO of Life on Air, explains his former app Meerkat with two words: “spontaneous togetherness.”  Although his words sounds somewhat ~hippie~ and Houseparty is a different app, it’s actually provides accurate description of Houseparty. Also, while you’re alone in a “party” waiting for people to join, it generates a compliment or fun fact to ease your wait.  And let’s be honest, who can complain about that?

 

 

I have found that a full chat of 8 is typically a bit too hard to handle with different people speaking over each other and a variety of background noises.  There also seems to be issues with lag/freezing and connection as the party size increases.  A “party” of 4-6 seems to be ideal for enabling the awkward, entertaining, and ultimately fun conversations as friends continuously enter and leave.  Rubin claims the idea “is to create a live, always-on place that you can dip in and out of whenever you want … it’s the best part of live streaming, minus the social anxieties the come from calling someone or initiating a FaceTime call.” The innovative app provides users with a truly unfiltered way to connect and share with friends and family instantaneously.  Ultimately, Houseparty employs the fun, back-and-forth banter, of group chats combined with live video to provide a competitive advantage that differentiates the app from its competitors.

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Houseparty can even be seen in the O’Neill Library, aiding both the work and play of students at Boston College

I also believe Houseparty will endure the tests of time because its promotion to college students, its target market, has been extremely successful.  This new way to connect has provided a new and unique form of communication that has fit the needs of college students well.  It allows students to make plans before going out to bars on weekend nights, relive their stories the next day with friends, and even collaborate on homework assignments and projects.  Once the app was released on iOS and Android the company sent employees to college campuses in Alabama, Ohio, and Arkansas.  These employees met with fraternities, sororities and student groups to show them how the app worked.  The app has a feature where you can invite friends to join by sending them a text message, leveraging the network effect to gain popularity.  This has proved to be extremely successful.  Houseparty peaked as the number two spot on the App Store’s top download chart, and as of the end of September it was approaching over 1 million users in all fifty states and abroad.

Shoutouts:

friend who overruled me (and is to blame for my addiction to Houseparty): Dan K.

friend who takes screenshots: Anne D.

friends who joined my “party”: Holly W., Sarah P., Nick P., Mark P., Zac B., Collin R., Regan M., Galen O., Tara K., Connor vC., Christian B., Gigi M., Morgan “A$AP” H.

 

9 comments

  1. copmania12 · ·

    You truly are always “in the house”, and I have multiple notifications to prove it. Great post! I find Rubin’s description of “spontaneous togetherness” to be incredibly accurate. This app is something I have really been enjoying over the course of the past couple weeks, and although it seriously takes a hit to my efficiency levels, it is a great way to connect with multiple friends at once. To your point, I have even met friends of friends and acquaintances in larger houseparties that I now know better because of the open format that the app provides… very odd to be able to say “we met on houseparty.” I might disagree with you on sustainability, however. I don’t foresee this app lasting long- either people will get tired of it OR similar to what happened in the past, a more user-friendly and high quality live streaming app will one up it.

  2. Very interesting post! I’ve never heard of this app but I can see the appeal of the app and this catching on very fast in college student markets like you said. It is an interesting way to communicate with your friends in various situations. I wonder how this app will compete with other services that might be better like Google Hangouts, etc. though. I’m not sure if this app will be here to stay but you never know!

  3. vicmoriartybc · ·

    Like the commenter before me, I also have not heard of this app before. If it ends up blowing up and becoming the next Snapchat or Instagram, you can say you used it before it was the cool new social network! While reading your description of it though, I found myself being a little skeptical about the multi-way video chat aspect. I often find that my WiFi/data connection is rarely ever strong enough to sustain a glitch-free one-on-one FaceTime, so I’m not surprised that HouseParty has similar issues. I also worry about the staying power of an app like this – will it gain a sustainable following, or become a fad like Vine? I guess time will tell. I look forward to hearing more about this app, and want to try it out myself!

  4. bishopkh1 · ·

    Loved this post. I think Houseparty is fulfilling a need that many college students have that isn’t fulfilled by FaceTime or SnapChat. The ability to connect with multiple users is very valuable, and something that even Google Hangouts still struggles with. I wonder if Snapchat will make a move to enable some type of group feature. It seems like it would be a feature that aligns with what they already do, and provide some of the value that Houseparty is right now.

  5. gabcandelieri · ·

    I have been hearing about Houseparty all over campus recently. As an avid Facetime user, I personally think I would love the application. For the reasons you listed, I agree that this app is incredibly conducive to a college campus. However, is this target market enough to bring the app forward? What other audiences do you think this application could appeal to and what innovative features could it employ to cater more closely to diverse audiences. For example, I could see this app having huge potential in the workplace as a replacement for conference calls (albeit informal) if employees are inundated with work and cannot manage to leave their desks. However, the app’s name might be considered inappropriate in this context, in which case some kind of concession would have to be made. In terms of new features for new audiences, perhaps Houseparty could adopt a feature for this workplace environment that allows it to temporarily upload documents to each user’s screen for a quick overview. The possibilities are definitely endless, but once Houseparty answers those questions, I believe its potential can truly be maximized in a world where apps that do not adapt quickly eventually die out.

  6. cmackeenbc · ·

    Is anyone else shocked that Apple hasn’t expanded FaceTime or created an application for this exact purpose? It makes no sense to me that they haven’t, as it seems a natural progression from the one-on-one FaceTime experience. They may worry about connection issues, which might cause more complaints than compliments if they were to expand. You mentioned background noises and other issues for a bit, but does the technology generally work well? It sounds like a lot of fun if so. I just mentioned Houseparty to my roommate and she told me that it’s “f**king amazing” and that she has been using it with her friends from home all the time. I think the Houseparty terminology is perfect for college kids–my roommate also said she loved getting notifications that her best friend Rosie is “in the house”. I like @gabcandelieri‘s above idea that it could be useful in the workplace, though I agree that a terminology change would be crucial if they were to expand in this direction. Thanks for a fun read, I am going to go download the app and try to get my roommates to do so as well so we can test it this weekend!!

  7. “Trip to NJ” – testing house party on the way to the hunt?- very accurate use hahah!
    I have never heard of Houseparty before this blogged but now I’m so intrigued. The structure of your blog was awesome and easy to read. Although it seems the app banal and the “spontaneous togetherness” seems hippie, there were very similar critiques of snapchat in the beginning. So I am uncertain if it will last, but the backing of a knowledgeable company and the already fast pace adoption of the app definitely looks at it’s future in the positive direction…
    Funny post by the way! Very enjoyable read!

  8. francoismba · ·

    I was starting to feel pretty old until I read the above comments and realized I’m not the only one that has not heard of this new app. I enjoyed reading how Houseparty has marketed to its target group. I think it’s a brilliant idea to target Greek Life – Facebook took a similar approach. However, fraternities and sororities are constantly bombarded by new companies looking to obtain the members as customers. How can Houseparty communicate the application’s benefits and differentiate itself from other start-ups who target college campuses?

  9. Nice post! You definitely get the ‘most trafficked” of the week.

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