Avoid the Feature
M.G. Siegler

M.G. — interesting that you bring this topic up, because it is one that I experienced first hand with PackPoint. We deployed to Android first, partly due to the ability to iterate more quickly. Once we deployed to Apple’s app store, we were featured globally on the app store main screen for a week. What a rush! I was beside myself with excitement. Tons of downloads, our stats in mixpanel were going nuts.

Then we started getting closer and closer to breaking through the limit of our Google Geolocation API that’s used to get PackPoint’s cities list. If that happens, PackPoint stops working — users can’t advance past the first screen. I was really freaking out, truly stressed. I was asking my friends at Google to help me increase my API threshold, to no avail. My app was going to hit a hard failure, its ratings would plummet, and the organic app store rankings that would otherwise be boosted would end up trashed.

We got up to 90-something percent of the API threshold before the week ended. Lucky us!! Missed a massive opportunity for failure.

One issue with this article is that it implies a level of control over when your app gets featured, or if it gets featured at all. There is no such control. Prepare in advance by building a limited feature set (Lean Startup style), and QA like your life depends on it. Then take what you can get. If PackPoint didn’t get featured in the App Store that week, it would have never received the organic press coverage that it did, and it would be nowhere near where it is now.

I think the most useful advice on this topic is not to release something that doesn’t work well. Release functional products, and hope you’re lucky enough to get featured. Planning to not get featured just doesn’t make sense in reality.

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