There are many reasons why a web app might fail. In the early days of web apps there was good reason for a public failure, as web app developers were still learning about the best way to be effective in building and developing apps and how to market them properly to an audience that were also coming to terms with how expansive their smartphones and other devices could be.

Whether it is a main systems crash, a loss of back-up data, content errors or other reasons, there have been some big cockups when it comes to web apps, and from some of the biggest names around! We’ll take you through a list of some of them, but first.

What is a web app?

A web application is a program that uses web browsers and web technology to perform tasks over the internet. For many of us, a web app is used for online retail purposes or for gaming. If you are buying something online, you might use the app from that retailer on your phone to make the purchase, rather than go on the website through the browser.

What are the benefits to web apps?

For consumers, web applications are fast and easy to use. They are accessible, secure and give you what you want, when you want it, from a variety of devices and locations. A good web app will have the same look and feel as a company website, but function in a way that is imperceptible to the user but makes a massive difference to the company.

Some of the benefits of web apps for business include:

  • They help to cut costs for the business
  • There is less maintenance required on a web app than a website
  • Lower processing power requirements than a website
  • SaaS apps help to secure data, information, and content
  • Compatibility across multiple platforms and devices is improved
  • Automatic updates for optimal performance

If you are a consumer searching for a product or service on your phone, you click a link on the Google search results and you go through and can make a purchase or request information and receive a response, it is more than likely that you are using a web app.

Web App Failures

There have been some big web app failures over the years, some of which have been made by the biggest names in tech. Let’s have a look at what happened and why.

  1. Amazon

In March 2003, Amazon’s UK IT department accidentally mispriced two lines of PocketPCs, where a Hewlett-Packard iPAQ H1910 was priced at just £7.32 instead of £275, and the iPAQ H5450 was priced at a generous £23.04 instead of its top-of-the-range price of £500. The news spread fast through email and the number of users froze the site, blocking new customers from signing in. Tens of thousands of orders were made, but there was a fast statement issued where Amazon said that it was under no obligation to honour the sales due to the cock-up. The problem here was that human error saw the wrong pricing inputted, as price changes must be made in a time-sensitive manner. Automation and a cleaner checking protocol make it much harder to make a mistake such as this on the web apps of today.

  • Vine

We loved Vine. We still watch compilations of Vine videos for hours into the night, laughing our heads off at people nearly dropping their croissant, but as a web app, it ended up a big failure. The TikTok of its day, Vine had over 200 million users at its peak but could not find a business model that was sustainable. It took off very quickly with it’s 6-second GIF videos that were revolutionary at the time, but the app did not adapt quickly enough to market changes. It was bought by Twitter in 2012 for $30 million but there was no coherent strategy from its leadership, and it soon lost ground to Snapchat and Instagram. By the time it decided to extend the length of video clips available, it was too late, and it died on the Vine.

  • FriendFeed

FriendFeed began life as a website and app that acted as a real-time social aggregating network. All updates from social media websites and social networking platforms, blogs, and any social bookmarking websites were included. It was a good idea, started by some former employees of Google, but it was never going to compete against Facebook who bought it for $40 million in 2009 and closed it down completely in 2015.

  • Hailo

This was a start-up e-taxi service much like the uber-successful Uber. It had around 2.5 million users in London but came up against problems when it tried to move into New York taxis. The company left Uber to take the premium cab market and instead targeted the yellow cab drivers with a low-price model. Unlike taxi drivers in London, yellow cab drivers didn’t carry their phone around with them on the job, so immediately there was a culture problem technologically, as smartphones were needed for the app to run. The drivers also didn’t see the need for an app, as there was already an easy way to pick up regular passengers that had been tried and tested for many decades. As Uber then began to lower prices, Hailo suffered, and pulled out of North America completely in July 2018.

  • Color Labs

This photo-sharing app was launched in March 2011. The idea was to share photos with other app users that you were physically close to. It would recognise another user as a friend due to the amount of time they were in the proximity of your phone. So, if you hang out with one person every day, and you both use the app, you would become friends automatically. Despite being an interesting idea, for it to work it would require a huge base of users before launch, and this wasn’t possible. New users felt like there was nobody around to share photos with, so the app was often empty. There were also privacy concerns as total strangers who happened to be physically close to you might be able to view your photos. By October 2012 the business was closed.

Web apps for your future digital marketing audience

Reaching a modern audience can be hard work. There are so many different avenues that you can take and making the right choice takes some thought. At Candy Marketing, we have helped many businesses work out the best digital marketing approach to reach the optimal target audience and to increase leads and sales.

Web applications are a fantastic option for your business, providing your customers (and potential customers) to contact you and purchase your products and services from an app on their phone or device, rather than only through your website on a browser. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities and when it is done correctly it can increase your chances of success. To find out more about our web app services, contact Candy today on 0161 826 0123 or email us and we’ll be happy to set up a meeting with you at your earliest convenience.