Like with the earlier Path, first experiences matter and are mattering more every day. Why?
Because most of the startups in the mobile space are NOT getting most of their users from a great post in Techcrunch, or a tweet or a video from me. And with 500,000 apps to choose from we won’t go back and give folks another chance. There are too many five-star apps to consider for us to go back to trying two-star ones.
Where are the droves of new users coming from? The featured lists in app stores. iTunes has become a DOMINANT way for apps to get more users. Why do you think Angry Birds keeps releasing all those updates? (So they are able to get another “featured” spot on the iTunes store and gather another few million users).
So that brings us to yesterday’s release and hype fest of Color. Where did the hype come from? Well, they got funded for $41 million. Really? Wow.
When I started up the app I had a horrible first experience. So did many other people. The reviews on iTunes are scathing and are averaging two stars. That’s the kiss of obscurity right there. In fact, the company knows this and has put a warning right on their home page “don’t use Color alone!” That’s not enough, cause most of us don’t live in San Francisco or New York.
Last night this pissed me off so much that I opened up my iPhone and gave a rant about Color that’s going around the Internet.
In it I explain why I had a bad first experience (I don’t live in a big city with tons of early adopters, so when I started it up there aren’t any other pictures in the system) and what I would have done about it (copy Foursquare, who only released in San Francisco and New York — I couldn’t even use Foursquare for the first year of its life because I didn’t live in a big city). Foursquare’s “bad first experience” was much better than Color’s, because I could at least understand the use case. Here I’m left wondering.
This is also the problem with taking so much money, I note in my audio rant. They felt they had to “go big, or go home.” Compare this to how Foursquare launched. Controlled, small, and focused on making sure that the first real experience was good.
To the VCs: you’re gonna get burned if you keep pouring in so much money on new companies. $41 million? For a new company that hasn’t proven themselves? Really? Just because you have superstars on board? Really?
I wanna see that pitch deck. It must have had some magic unicorn dust sprinkled on it or something. In fact, someone posted this Color pitch to the Internet which is very funny.
But, seriously, I hope Color has a secret plan we’re not all seeing. Just the promise of building a new social graph isn’t enough.
Users care about great experiences, they don’t care how much money you collected on Sand Hill Road.
One last thought. This is the kind of app that would have been a lot of fun to use at SXSW. It should have launched there. Whoever slipped the release date to after SXSW should be fired. They missed the market window and will never get it back.