11 Mobile Apps That Failed and How To Learn From Their Mistakes

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By 2023, cellular apps are anticipated to generate $935 billion in income and by 2024, round 184 billion apps could have been downloaded. Whereas conserving these predictions in thoughts, let’s rewind and think about app shops’ humble beginnings.


2008: The Apple App Retailer launched in July, adopted by Android Market in October (it turned Google Play in 2012). To refresh your reminiscence, right here’s what the shops seemed like in 2008.

It’s truthful to say that since then, the shops have undergone important modifications in design, performance, and app databases. Nevertheless, the purpose of those shops stays the identical: to offer a platform for cellular customers to browse and obtain apps. Apps are a lot part of our lives that Apple and Google launch annual roundups of the finest apps and video games.

In 2020, the App Retailer introduced that Wakeout!, a family-friendly train and motion app, earned the iPhone App of the Yr. The app additionally received app of the yr in 2017. For Google Play, there was an identical theme to its 2020 winner. Temper-altering app Loóna received finest app of the yr, and in response to Google Play knowledge, it’s been downloaded 500,000 instances.

For these app builders, it should really feel nice to obtain this recognition from Apple, Google, and, after all, their customers. Nevertheless, for each success story, there are a whole lot of apps that fail. In keeping with a 2018 Gartner examine, lower than 0.01% of shopper cellular apps might be thought of a monetary success by their builders.

With tens of millions of apps now out there in Google Play and the iOS retailer, what number of have missed the mark with customers? On this roundup, we spotlight 11 apps that got here up quick, and essential classes that builders and entrepreneurs can be taught. Take a look at our infographic beneath to learn to win from cellular app failures.

Why Do Cellular Apps Fail? A Few Theories

With a 0.01% success fee, why do app builders even hassle? Whereas there are a variety of theories as to why cellular apps fail, the primary causes fall underneath these three classes:

1. There’s such a factor as a free app

In keeping with Statista, as of March 2021, 93% of all iOS purposes have been out there without spending a dime in comparison with 97% in Google Play. With so many free apps out there, it’s no surprise that customers are hesitant to tug out their wallets for apps which have a price ticket. This makes it troublesome to monetize apps and pump a reimbursement into app growth.

2. There are so many apps

Within the time it’ll take you to learn this text, 1000’s of apps have been added to the Google Play retailer. In actual fact, 3,739 apps are added to Google Play day by day. The demand for brand new content material has pushed the worldwide cellular trade and widened the app pond. Nevertheless, progress is a double-edged sword and this demand and progress means extra competitors. Backside line: the definition and requirements for the ‘finest’ app are tougher to match.

3. There’s a hefty construct price for an app

In keeping with trade insiders, it will possibly price as little as $1,000 for a easy iOS app and as a lot as $150,000 for a high-tech Android app. It may be a tricky place to begin, and in consequence, profitability and future funding might be troublesome to take care of for numerous apps.

Failure to Launch: 11 Cellular Apps That Misplaced Their Worth

With all of this in thoughts, we determined to have a look at 11 cellular apps throughout gaming, expertise, media, transportation, social networking, ecommerce, and finance that failed to remain the course.

Yik Yak

  • App Life: 2013 to 2017
  • Synopsis: An nameless, location-based messaging app for school college students
  • Market: Social networking
  • Declare to fame: Buyers as soon as valued Yik Yak at $400 million

Why it failed: This was an initially well-liked app that didn’t have a enterprise mannequin or agency understanding of its product or market match. The anonymity that when attracted customers to the app later resulted in severe complaints round cyberbullying, threats, and harassment. Person progress slowed, workers sadly misplaced their jobs, and the app shut down after solely 4 years.

Key takeaway: Don’t simply focus in your product. Earlier than you launch an app, be sure that you completely analysis and perceive your product-market match. How do you retain customers pleased along with your app and the way do you improve time spent on the app? How do these solutions contribute to your ongoing success and product progress?


  • App Life: 2012 to 2014 (North America market)
  • Synopsis: British-born taxi app that matched passengers with taxi drivers
  • Market: Transportation 
  • Declare to fame: In 2013, the app had 30,000 drivers and a couple of.5 million customers

Why it failed: Whereas the app nonetheless operates in Europe, it failed in North America, significantly when it launched in New York Metropolis. Right here’s why: the app assumed that drivers in NYC have been the identical as drivers in London. In NYC, cabs are usually not seen as a luxurious like they’re in London. Moreover, London has tough routes whereas NYC is on an easy-to-use grid system. It additionally didn’t assist that Uber additionally launched in 2011 and was on monitor to dominate.

Key takeaway: It would sound like frequent sense, however no two customers are the identical. The identical goes for markets. Don’t base your selections and assumptions on cookie cutter variations of 1 profitable launch. You might need an incredible thought, however it’s important to put within the work to succeed.


  • App Life: 2012 to 2017
  • Synopsis: A preferred app for making short-form movies
  • Market: Social networking
  • Declare to fame: Twitter purchased the app in 2012 for a reported $30 million

Why it failed: The quick reply: Instagram and its 15-second video functionality. Whereas Instagram wasn’t the one contributor to Vine’s demise, it performed an enormous half in it. As downloads and customers declined, so did advertisers and entrepreneurs that when thought of Vine the platform to spend money on. Different points included an unsustainable enterprise mannequin and incapability to adapt and compete with different apps.

Key takeaway: You’ll all the time have competitors, however there are a few necessary parts of success: recognizing and embracing change. As expertise evolves, so will the wants of customers. In the event you follow what you realize and miss the boat, it’ll actually be sink or swim time on your app.


  • App Life: April to October 2020
  • Synopsis: A brief-form video streaming service
  • Market: Media and leisure
  • Declare to fame: The app efficiently raised $2 billion earlier than launch

Why it failed: One huge motive was the app didn’t have memorable, binge-worthy content material. The app additionally solely deliberate on individuals wanting to observe content material on their telephones. There was no appropriate Hearth TV app or capacity to stream by way of Airplay or Chromecast. It wasn’t a worthy contender for a standalone subscription-based service. Who would pay $5 a month ($8 with out adverts) for mediocre content material and a single-device method to streaming?

Key takeaway: Why does your app exist? In the event you can’t reply this query, your customers undoubtedly received’t be capable to. Additionally, ensure that you possibly can reply one other necessary query: why would a person select your app over Netflix? TikTok? Instagram? Competitors is fierce and your app has to face out for the appropriate causes.


  • App Life: 2012 to 2017
  • Synopsis: An internet public sale home that specialised in luxurious items and collectibles
  • Market: Ecommerce
  • Declare to fame: 250 artwork consultants and $96+ million in funding raised

Why it failed: Right here’s an incredible thought: an app that enables live-streamed auctions for promoting artifacts, collectibles, and effective artwork. Right here’s a unhealthy thought: breaching commerce laws. In 2016, a report was launched that accused Aucionata of shill bidding and unethical habits. After these points got here to gentle, the app misplaced the belief of customers and had formally misplaced its worth.

Key takeaway: It’s easy: don’t be irresponsible, unethical, or bid towards your prospects. Along with adhering to insurance policies, laws, and codes inside your trade, just remember to are all the time clear along with your app’s T&Cs and accountable with person knowledge. In the event you do make a mistake and lose the belief of your customers, take the mandatory steps to reconcile the difficulty and be taught classes from the second.


  • App Life: 2009 to 2011
  • Synopsis: A social community that embraced fee sharing, which refers to sharing your bank card funds with pals and strangers
  • Market: Social networking/finance
  • Declare to fame: Obtained backing by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams

Why it failed: Blippy got here on the scene BV, i.e., Earlier than Venmo. The idea was simply loopy sufficient to work till a 2010 knowledge breach uncovered bank card info to Google. Blippy launched earlier than social and fee oversharing was the ‘norm’ and the information breach undoubtedly didn’t assist.

Key takeaway: Apps like Venmo, Instagram, and Snapchat have undoubtedly made oversharing well-liked, and when executed appropriately, this tactic and USP can yield the specified outcomes. Nevertheless, it goes again to the age previous query: who cares? In the event you’re making an attempt to resolve an issue that doesn’t exist or make a product that nobody needs, your app will develop into a blip on the radar.

Pay by Contact

  • App Life: 2002 to 2008
  • Synopsis: An app and system that provided biometric fee service
  • Market: Finance
  • Declare to fame: Satisfied Oracle and Accenture executives to hitch the enterprise after which raised $340 million in funding

Why it failed: To call a number of, irresponsible management, lack of market analysis, and lack of selling. It’s a disgrace as there was actual potential and expertise behind its title to be a helpful fee service. What’s worse: when Pay by Contact filed for chapter, shoppers have been left in the dead of night.

Key takeaway: There’s by no means only one motive an app fails. Nevertheless, one factor is for sure: by no means underestimate the significance of efficient management. Don’t be afraid to spend money on ‘assume exterior the field’ crew members and leaders. It’s good to be forward of the curve however don’t be the app that’s too early to the occasion and requested to go away.

Punch Quest

  • App Life: 2012 to current
  • Synopsis: An arcade-style preventing sport about punching your enemies
  • Market: Gaming
  • Declare to fame: The app was downloaded greater than 630,000 instances in its first week

Why it failed: Whereas Punch Quest remains to be out there within the App Retailer and Google Play, in 2012, it made one big mistake: the core sport provided a lot without spending a dime that gamers have been understandably hesitant to pay for in-app purchases. The consequence: regardless of 600K+ downloads, the sport made simply over $10,000 in income.

Key takeaway: Providing free content material, significantly as a teaser or at launch, generally is a nice advertising and marketing tactic. Nevertheless, it is a nice instance of a raffle that actually didn’t repay. Make the most of your buyer database and check payment ranges to seek out out which fee choices work finest. Check the free-to-play mannequin however if you happen to do supply in-app purchases, they have to be value it.


  • App life: 2010 to 2015 (underneath unique homeowners)
  • Synopsis: A retailer that sells discounted toys and clothes
  • Market: Ecommerce
  • Declare to fame: At one level, Zuilily was valued at $9 billion

Why it failed: The app didn’t carry well-known manufacturers, however the reputation of the flash gross sales was sufficient to generate a buzz and an honest variety of subscribers. But it was a advertising and marketing mistake that contributed in an enormous solution to Zulily’s demise. The app demanded that customers share their e-mail addresses earlier than that they had the chance to correctly try the store. Outcome: aggravated prospects who shopped as soon as and didn’t return.

Key takeaway: Because of advertising and marketing channels like push notifications, apps can alert prospects of shock gross sales. It’s an incredible advertising and marketing tactic to attract in dormant prospects and showcase the worth that your app can convey to a buyer’s life. Nevertheless, don’t get grasping along with your advertising and marketing efforts. Apps ought to always remember {that a} person sharing their e-mail handle is a present.


  • App Life: 2014 to 2018
  • Synopsis: Take an image of your package deal, add to the app, and somebody would choose it up for a complete cost of $5
  • Market: Transportation
  • Declare to fame: Early protection in The New York Occasions and $62 million in funding

Why it failed: Regardless of being in comparison with Uber, the app sadly grew too quick and couldn’t sustain with demand. The app failed to regulate its technique to compensate for this progress, and in the long run, it didn’t anticipate how many individuals would leap on the alternative to dump a tedious job — mailing a package deal — for less than $5.

Key takeaway: The expansion of your app seems to be good on the floor but when there isn’t sufficient substance, your app would be the sufferer of its personal success. Because the wants of your customers evolve, so should your technique. Don’t simply take note of trade developments. Anticipate and plan for them.

Google Wave

  • App Life: 2009 to 2010
  • Synopsis: An actual-time messaging platform
  • Market: Social networking
  • Declare to fame: Generated tons of buzz and was deemed ‘extremely anticipated’

Why it failed: Though Google Wave by no means reached app customers, that is an instance of a platform launching too early. It additionally goes to point out {that a} huge title like Google isn’t all the time sufficient to ensure success. It was additionally by no means completely clear what Google Wave was imagined to be and sadly, after solely a yr, the wave crashed and burned for the search engine big.

Key takeaway: Preliminary buzz on your app is unquestionably thrilling however don’t give in to inside or exterior stress to launch your app earlier than it’s prepared. It may be tempting to launch whereas the eye is in your app however if you happen to don’t handle expectations, make your product clear, or correctly map out your rollout plan, you and your app will miss the mark solely.

Like cellular units, apps have a shelf life. It’s necessary that your app makes probably the most of its time within the app retailer and on a person’s cellphone. As we develop into much more depending on our telephones, and by extension apps, the competitors will develop into fiercer and tougher to beat. Failure is part of life and as talked about above, an app’s failure is rarely nearly one factor.

Whereas this listing of app failures isn’t exhaustive, it demonstrates how mismanagement, lack of analysis, poor supply, and timing and advertising and marketing errors can price you. Nevertheless, by mastering key processes resembling app onboarding and helpful notifications like in-app messaging, your app could have a shiny future certainly.

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