TuneIn has a good thing going with its popular online radio service, which now sees over 40 million monthly listeners, so why is the company veering into voice-based social networking? Yes, voice-based. A new mobile app called “TuneIn OpenMic” has appeared on the iTunes App Store, offering select users the ability to record and broadcast their “stories, jokes, reviews and more” and then share them with their friends.
The mobile social messaging craze is apparently hard to resist.
Read the Astroturfed App Store reviews, OpenMic is “definitely a new social networking experience like none-other” and “super fun.”
But it’s not really a new idea. From what we’ve seen, it appears OpenMic competes with a number of other voice-based social apps, like Spreaker, Dubbler, Bubbly, Talkbits, and others. To some extent, you could count several mobile messaging apps as competitors, too, including Voxer, Whatsapp or even Facebook Messenger, as recording your voice is also a feature in those applications.
TuneIn’s OpenMic app, meanwhile, falls somewhere in between wanting to be a purely social “Twitter for Voice” kind of thing, and something which aspiring podcasters could use to build up an audience.
The app is only open to university students right now, and it requires a .edu email address in order to sign up.
The app lets users set up a profile page, find and follow their friends, mark posts as favorites for later listening, share audio clips outside of OpenMic, and comment on posts others have created, or reply to others’ comments. To create a recording, it’s just a matter of pressing a big, red “Record” button and then attaching a photo to accompany the post.
In the screenshots on iTunes, example posts further illustrate the kind of content OpenMic hopes to see, including recordings about football games, parties, music, and oh, yeah, schoolwork. The app is being tested at Stanford, TuneIn tells us, a school which is also featured heavily in the App Store screenshots.
TuneIn raised $25 million in new funding earlier this year, in a round led by IVP, with previous investors Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, and General Catalyst also participating. At the time of the raise, the company had said it had already surpassed 1 billion listening hours as of mid-April 2013, which would have made it the #2 destination for online music behind Pandora. As of October, TuneIn said it was offering over 70,000 AM, FM and Internet radio stations on more than 200 platforms, in 230 different countries and territories. Today it has 100,00 stations.
Considering these metrics, it’s clear that this new app doesn’t represent a shift away from TuneIn’s core business, but rather an expansion. Though the OpenMic app is obviously still experimental, if successful, it could offer TuneIn’s advertisers another way to reach a targeted demographic – the coveted young and mobile listener. You can download the mobile app here on iTunes, but most won’t be able to actually use the app until TuneIn opens it up more broadly.