5/31: How to kill your app

Destroying the trust users have on you is the best way to kill your app.

Grab for Instagram was a slightly popular enhancement app for Instagram. It helped to create shelves of your favorite pictures, save images of your friends or accounts you followed, rewind videos to the time you wanted and save them for later. It had almost five stars with more than 1.5k reviews on the AppStore, until they decided to implement a new function of removing adds in a way that made the users feel tricked, leading to the app being removed from the store.

According to a user’s post on reddit, that you can find here. Once you downloaded the app (or opened the new version) the app would prompt you with scanning Touch ID to remove ads on the app. If you are a new user or haven’t being using the app for a while, according to common UX, this could be for logging into the app, so it’s really easy to just perform the action and click continue to try to start using the app.

As this user, there were more that started complaining with Apple, reporting the app and leaving a bad review for the new version. Quickly the app started getting one star reviews and by today, it was removed from the AppStore.

I understand that free apps need to find a way to support themselves, this could be through ads, in app purchases, selling extra functionality, etc. But there should be some guidelines you need to follow, for example let the user experience your app in its free version before deciding if he/she wants to buy extra functionality or pay to remove adds.

If the user feels you are not being completely transparent or you are trying to take advantage of them, then they would quickly stop using your app. If the problem wasn’t that big, they would just uninstall it and that’s all, but in cases like this the user can look for extra ways to show its anger, this could be by reporting you to the store or maybe looking for legal advice, as it happened to this company that’s headquartered in Hong Kong, a region that has an easy way to report cyber attacks.

Even when the user can get a refund, it would be almost impossible to recover the users that already felt you tried to trick them. These would start talking to others and telling their acquaintances to stop using your apps.

As the owner of an app you need to understand that your clients are the most important part for your company. They are the ones who, in one way or another, would give you revenue, would talk good about you and would make your app successful.

You want to kill your app? Kill the trust your users have put on you, easy as that. A user is someone who trusted you to give their information, their time, their attention and chose you over thousands of apps in the market.


This story is part of my 31/31 challenge. Following a friend’s idea I will publish at least one story every day for the next month.

If you see any error please let me know, the idea is to stop over-reviewing my stories before publishing them.

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