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Showing posts from March, 2012

2012: The Year of the App-ocalypse?

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This post was also published on CNET and VentureBeat. The Mayans were right about one thing. There is a looming extinction event this year -- of apps that fail to capture a mass audience. In the past week, two high-profile mobile apps were effectively shut down and acquired -- Hipster by Aol and Oink by Google. Both had big PR buildups, rave reviews from the tech press, and strong usage from the digerati.

What they did not get was traction beyond that, and the teams went on to be acqui-hired. Even apps that seemed to define new categories, such as GroupMe for group chat and Foursquare for check-in, have failed to gain popularity with the general public. GroupMe sold to Skype and Foursquare is shifting from the check-in model to the reviews/discovery space dominated by Yelp. Highlight, the latest digerati darling, drained batteries and fizzled at South by Southwest.

Why do even well-funded apps with successful founders fail -- as happened to Peter Pham with Color, Kevin Rose with Oink,…