When Flipboard launched its iPad app in 2010, many observers knew that it would only be a matter of time before a version for Apple’s smartphone platform was introduced. After all, it was a big hit with users, and so well received that it was awarded with the “iPad App of the Year” honor by none other than Apple itself.
In the beginning of December, Flipboard released a version of its popular app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The launch was a huge success. According to its maker, the software attracted one million new users within a week of its arrival. The company also said that it tripled its engagement within that time, which is measured using a metric it calls “flips per month.” The successful launch pretty much solidifies Flipboard’s place as a pioneer in the emerging field of e-news apps like Google Currents and Zite.
So why are people making such a big deal about Flipboard? The short answer is because it’s useful. An app created by a startup company of the same name, Flipboard curates content
from social networks, blogs and other sites, and then presents it to the user in a magazine format on their device. Part of the app’s name is based on how it is specifically designed to allow the user to literally flip through their feeds by simply interacting with the touchscreen Apple’s devices are so well known for. With the latest version, Flipboard added Cover Stories, a new feature that collects and presents all the user’s updates, photos and shared articles in a streamlined view.
The new Flipboard app may have been highly successful at further establishing the brand, but the recent launch did not go as smoothly as it could have. In fact, there was such a demand for the app, the company’s servers went down the morning following the initial launch. The crash reportedly caused problems for both iPad and iPhone users as the service was knocked off line for a few hours before slowly providing access to new users.
Although the technical issues did not deter enthusiastic users from downloading the free app and giving it a spin, they do speak to the importance of being able to keep up with demand. Flipboard was able to quickly bounce back, but the next business may not be so lucky. On that note, here are some tips on effectively keeping up with the demand from your audience:
Plan for Scalability
- Flipboard co-founder Mike McCue called for double the number of servers his engineer said would be needed for the launch. Now we know that number was nowhere near enough. Whether it is investing in multiple physical servers or virtually unlimited storage in the cloud, the scalability of your digital products or solutions will be key in catering to demand.
Launch at the Right Time
- While everything appears to have worked out for the best, one has to wonder if Flipboard could have better timed the launch of its iPhone app. Take note of what happened here because your ability to handle demand will largely depend on when you launch your product or service.
Grow with Your Audience
- Flipboard has grown by leaps and bounds despite having a short stay on the market. The app has gone from the iPad to iPhone and iPod, with plans to provide users with consistent updates throughout its lifecycle. This is a good model to follow because constantly evolving, engaging your audience and doing what it takes to keep them interested is vital to your success.
The app is currently doing well, but Flipboard has plenty of competition to deal with. Aside from Google Currents and Zite, it also has to keep pace with competitors such as Yahoo Livestand and Editions from AOL.