Top 7 Mobile App Failures & Learnings to Build a Successful App

Sudeep Srivastava February 13, 2023

The mobile app market is growing by leaps and bounds in today’s fast-paced world. As a result, digital enterprises are trying to implement every possible app strategy to stand in the competition. Many enterprises now regard mobile application development as a goldmine because of the revenue the apps are capable of generating. According to Statista, the global mobile app revenue is expected to generate over USD 935 billion by 2023 via paid downloads and in-app advertising.

Mobile app revenue

When you are planning to build an application, your aim is to give your user a solution, get millions of app downloads and ultimately an increase in the in-app purchases. But the reality is, only a few mobile apps are able to achieve this. More than 60% of apps fail either due to poor execution, ineffective app ideas or inability to monetize via app. 

Moreover, a closer examination of the mobile app development services industry signifies that many of the apps are shut down in their very primary stage of use. This is mainly due to the digitalization and extreme competitiveness. Apart from competition, there are many errors that an app developer can make which can harm their app’s success.

When developing a mobile app, you should aim for the best but also prepare for the worst. What can you learn from some of the most unsuccessful apps in the past?

7 Mobile Apps that Failed & What to Learn from their Mistakes

Developing software requires skill and knowledge, which isn’t cheap. You simply cannot expect to produce a successful app unless you are ready to put in the time, effort, and resources required. 

Following is a list of famous app failures. Here we have helped you crack why these apps failed and what you can learn from their mistakes. 

Mobile apps

Vine – 2012 to 2017

Vine is recognized as a failed social media app due to its inability to develop a viable business plan. Vine was a video-sharing program that allowed users to create and share six-second video clips. Every Vine video was referred to as a “vine,” and it could be played indefinitely and integrated into Twitter’s timeline or any other website page. 

Vine took off swiftly with the advent of a groundbreaking new concept at the time – very short GIF videos, but the app had not done anything important to respond to market developments. This has been a problem for Vine since the beginning. Vine was purchased by Twitter for $30 million in 2012, with the company seeing Vine as a perfect complement to its text posts. 

Vine, like Twitter’s character count, had a time limit, which provided a fun creative challenge but ultimately stood as a barrier to creating more compelling short video stories. Vine’s small New York-based team, on the other hand, struggled to expand its user base and generate revenue.

Vine had a significant lead over other social video applications, but it was plainly lagging behind competitors such as Snapchat. With the option to create one-minute films, Instagram had also added excellent features and courted more celebrities. Vine’s videos were later extended, but it was too late. Vine also boarded the failed social media apps wagon and was eventually shut down by Twitter due to its inability to adapt.

Takeaway: There will always be a competition, however, that should not stop us from embracing changes. With the technology evolution, users’ needs also evolve. This is why one needs to implement a couple elements of success. 

Yik Yak – 2013 to 2017

Yik Yak was a popular anonymous messaging software for college students, as it allowed a private method to connect with individuals who might be nearby. Yik Yak’s most popular feature also became its foe. There were instances where individuals participated in cyberbullying in the anonymous chat rooms. As anonymous threats began to spread via Yik Yak, schools and institutions moved to prohibit its use.

The company developed a negative reputation, making it impossible to monetise the software. The program also failed to make the transition to group texting, and when it began to ask everyone for a permanent username or handle, install numbers plummeted to zero. It was unable to adjust to changing circumstances and comprehend its target markets.

Takeaway: Despite difficulties such as security, safety and monetization, the solution was never to change the element that made people adore and download Yik Yak in the first place. Before launching an app, there should have been thorough market research for the product fit. 

Hailo – 2012 to 2014 (North America market)

This company offered an e-taxi service similar to Uber. The service has proven to be a success in London & the next step in their plan was to take over New York City. While the app is still available in Europe, it was a flop in North America, especially in New York City. 

The software thought that drivers in New York City and London were the same. Cabs are not regarded as a luxury in New York like they are in London. Furthermore, London has difficult paths, but New York City follows a simple grid pattern. 

The key instrument required for drivers to use the service was a smartphone, which yellow taxi drivers in New York City did not carry while on the job. Drivers in London were well-trained and required to use smartphones as part of their professions. Cab drivers in New York City had little training. As a result, Hailo was only able to sign a small percentage of New York City’s yellow cab drivers.The company couldn’t survive despite over $100 million of funding. 

Takeaway: No two users are alike, and the same is true for markets. Don’t make conclusions or assumptions based on a single successful launch.

Auctionata – 2012 to 2017

It was a brilliant concept to have live-streamed auctions for selling rarities, artifacts, and fine art. Auctionata attempted to broadcast live events but was unable to do so due to extremely sluggish broadband speeds, poor customer service, issues with online payments, and concerns about delivery safety.

One of the company’s main issues was attempting to take action against its customers. In March 2016, the then-CEO, Alexander Zacke, was accused of violating trade laws. This was the result of an independent auditing firm’s investigation into the corporation. Zacke and the company’s board members were discovered to be illegally bidding on their auctions in order to artificially increase the price.

Users of the app began to abandon it after this disclosure. This step caused an auction service to lose its users’ faith, and many people who purchased artworks felt cheated out of their hard-earned money. In a nutshell, Auctionata was ahead of its time, but it also failed to comprehend its target market or address the problems that its audience was facing.

Takeaway: Make sure that you are constantly upfront with your app’s T&Cs and responsible with user data, in addition to complying to industry policies, regulations, and guidelines. 

Google Wave – 2009 to 2010

Wave was planned to be a tool with capabilities like email, instant messaging, blogging, wikis, multimedia management, and document sharing when Google unveiled it. It was proposed as a tool to help coworkers communicate and collaborate more effectively. 

Despite the fanfare, Google Wave did not take off, and the service was shut down six months after its launch. After 6,000 developers had worked on it and 100,000 users had tested it, there were a number of reasons for the app failure.

Wave aggregated a number of services that were already available, but these services were inferior to those supplied by independent platforms.

Separate services, such as emails and instant messaging, provided a better experience than Google Wave when used separately. This rendered the app ineffective because it couldn’t improve on the platform’s fundamental services or their combination.

Takeaway: Never launch an app before it’s ready to execute. It may be tempting to launch the app while all the attention is on you, however there still are chances that the product might not meet user expectations. 

Quixey – 2009 to 2017

Quixey sought to assist users in discovering content in other apps on their smartphones or tablets. Alibaba became the app’s largest stakeholder after investing almost $80 million, but the firm was ultimately the app’s undoing because Quixey had underperformed. 

Alibaba refused to invest any more, and the majority of the staff was sacked shortly after, and Quixey was shut down.

In the end, the app failed to generate considerable money. 

Takeaway: Quixey failed due to its failure to pay debts. Also, it failed to make considerable revenue with its product to keep it afloat. The lesson here is that going into debt and becoming reliant on third parties can sink a fledgling app seeking to establish itself in the app industry.

Rdio – 2011 to 2015

Rdio was a music streaming app that included a library of 5 million songs and allowed users to keep track of what music their friends were listening to. Skype co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom designed the app.

It incorporated social features into the app that let users see what their friends were listening to in real time. Instead of concentrating on user acquisition, the focus was to create the ideal music streaming software. Rdio didn’t have a dedicated marketing staff or marketing plan because marketing was undervalued, so they couldn’t work towards a target user base. This is a recipe for failure for a music streaming app, because a huge user base is the key to turning a profit beyond the exorbitant record label fees.

Also, Spotify arrived in the United States about a year after Rdio and provided consumers free music streaming on its service, which was subsidized by advertising. Unlike Rdio, Spotify put money on marketing and was well-known before it even began. The fact that it was a free service added to the attractiveness.

Takeaway: Rdio, in the end, was a fantastic app but had invested a lot of time and money into creating its features. It became a classic example of a failed application because it changed its business model too late to offer free music streaming.

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Mistakes to Avoid when Developing Your App

Today’s app stores are overcrowded with mobile applications vying for attention. Even though this is a significant benefit for today’s customers, the large number of apps lead to competition, making it difficult for businesses interested in developing mobile applications to drive their operations. 

So, as soon as the thought of developing a mobile app for your company strikes you, don’t jump right into it. Instead, it is recommended that you conduct research and analysis of failed mobile apps in the market and what faults they did.

How to Build a Successful App?

If you’re currently developing an app or planning to do so in the future, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that your app keeps its users satisfied and so increases its chances of making money and decreases possibilities of ending up with failed mobile apps.

Build a Successful App

Define User Personas

Apps are worthless without users hence, it’s critical to think about who could be interested in your app. Narrow down and define the user personas before developing your app and implement marketing techniques to promote the app. Consider the industry, occupation, income, age and region of your potential users, discover the commonalities or patterns that bind them. Apps that are successful are created with a certain user demographics in mind. Hence, it’s critical to research beforehand.

Validate Your App Idea

Apps that are successful provide a solution to a prevalent problem. As a result, an app must give consumers irrefutable value in some way. This is the best way to validate your app’s idea. Prospective users are unlikely to actively seek out or download an app that does not immediately benefit or assist them with a specific issue. Furthermore, why would a user keep using the app if there isn’t a problem that is constantly being solved or improved? Most popular apps have typically aided users in saving time, reducing effort, adding convenience, or connecting people.

Conduct Market Research

It’s possible that your app will face competition in the market now that the mobile app industry has developed. Investigate your competitors’ products and strategies to overtake them. Perhaps your competitors are lacking critical functionality that your users demand, or they aren’t catering to a specific user group. The study could lead you to the precise concepts and ideas that propel you to the top of your industry.

Partner with an App Development Company

If you’re starting a new mobile app business, it’s best to hire a professional team to help you construct a high-quality product that will compete in the market and avoid mobile app failures. Your app needs an intuitive, unique, relevant and smooth user experience for which there has to be a proper wireframing and user journey mapping. Your vision and commitment to make your project a reality can be communicated only through a well-designed conceptualization of your idea. 

Only an app developer can help you swiftly run through your idea, consolidate functionality, and outline business strategy. In addition, if you’re trying to raise money from investors, you’ll want to hire a professional team to create an MVP for your product. Your development team will help you get an estimate of the cost of developing your app. Contacting a developer can really fast track your idea in terms of technical feasibility, product strategy and development cost.

App Testing

Usability, compatibility, security, interface, performance and dependability will all need to be tested in your app. Your development team will run a series of technical tests on your app to check how it reacts to abuse and unusual instructions. Your development team will program as many safety nets as feasible in your codebase after detecting as many faults and problems as possible. The more you test, break, and fix your app, the more stable and reliable it will be. App testing by a professional QA will also help you save time and money by detecting and resolving issues before launching.

Monetizing Your App

Monthly subscriptions, single purchase fees, commissions, affiliate links, advertising, and even donation-based techniques can all be used to monetize apps. [You can read an in-depth article about how to make money with apps here]. Each software is ideally suited to a specific revenue strategy. It’s up to you to choose a pricing plan that your target audience is willing to participate in strategically. This is where the information you gathered about your target audience will come in handy.


The 7 apps mentioned above made blunders along the road, and any app developer may do the same. It’s critical to learn from these blunders and avoid such mobile app failures if you want your product to be a success.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to developing the ideal app. It is full of challenges and sometimes mistakes too. Apart from attempting to create a unique mobile app, it’s also critical to plan ahead and be cautious about the techniques you use when deciding on a market for your app. However, in order to succeed, you must research your market, understand your target audience and ensure that your app stands out from the clutter.

There are numerous organizations that offer app development services, but choosing the correct one is critical to the success of your app. We at Appinventiv have years of experience with mobile app design and development. Check out our portfolio of work.    

Try us! 

Sudeep Srivastava
Co-Founder and Director
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