Saturday, January 6, 2018
Mailbox and Tempo are great products with utterly silly PR strategies. And by strategies I mean making it so that you can't actually sign up and use the thing until they say so. Which is partly genius because it means that there's this assumption that when you get in you're part of some elite, which is great but doesn't really get you much further than pissing a lot of people off. People who for the most part won't wait and will forget.
Note: I've got into Mailbox and it's fantastic. I can't say that enough. It is a truly well-made, beautfiul and borderline perfect app that I hope stays independent.
They are however using a tactic that I don't believe will pay off for them. They have a phenomenal product and one that I think should be immensely successful. They have glorious press all over the shop. They have adoration from those that can use it.
They also have a few hundred thousand people waiting who will forget that they even want to use it before the timer is done. And I'm not sure the press will jump up again once the thing is fully public. If they do, well, great. That's superb. But I feel like creating false demand for whatever reason is a dick move for customers.
I would have paid 10 bucks for Mailbox. Others would have too. Okay, maybe 2 or 5. But making it free and then throttling people is just...I don't know. Not honest. Not justified. They claim it's for load balancing but I don't buy that. I think it's to simulate popularity for a product that doesn't need to. I wish it had just been about how goddamn good it is and not about how the world wanted to get in.
And Tempo? Another great idea that nobody can access. Why even do press? At least Mailbox had a wait list.
Tech companies: your product is not a Birkin bag. You can and will be forgotten (or at least drop out of the headlines). This is no insult to you - it's just the natural way of things. Not that it will necessarily mean nobody will ever love your product again - just that artificial demand is not going to sustain long term growth. Or indeed happy customers.
In both cases it could have been an honest mistake - a bad judgment of interest. But both feel too successful - too universally lauded upon - to have misjudged demand.
I am sure that Tempo is awesome. But when Scoble is saying GET THIS NOW and leading people to a page where they can get exactly nothing, all anyone is breeding is distaste.
Either let in everybody or nobody. Make people wait for a complete experience once instead of taunting them with press. C'mon. Apps are not commodities that people will fight over. There is, eventually, no exclusivity. And neither of these products (though Mailbox really, really has changed how I look at my Inbox) are on the transformative level of Gmail back when people were selling invites on eBay.