Too much of a good thing: Flipboard launch hype overwhelms service
It looked like a product launch home run.
When Flipboard, a hot new social media iPad app, made its public debut on Wednesday it had all the key pieces in place: endorsements from influential tech bloggers like Robert Scoble (who declared Flipboard “revolutionary”), a $10.5 million funding round from big-name investors including some of the co-founders Facebook and Twitter, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and even Ashton Kutcher, and a slot to demo the product at this week’s Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado.
But the company appears to have overlooked one key checklist item: server capacity.
The hype that Flipboard created for its new product was so great that the company was quickly overwhelmed by the resulting crush of demand. As users downloaded the app and attempted to use the service’s social networking features late on Wednesday, they were greeted with a message telling them the service wasn’t available and asking for patience.
Flipboard spokesperson Marcie McCue said on Thursday morning that the company was still working to resolve the problem, which prevents users from connecting Flipboard to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Flipboard offers a new way to experience social media, by taking a person’s Facebook and Twitter information, such as status updates from friends and shared links to news articles and videos, and presenting it all in a snazzy, graphics-rich layout that resembles a magazine.
“We had hoped we would have enough server capacity, now we’re just going to have to add more,” said McCue. She was unable to say offhand how many downloads of the app the company had experienced since launching.
Flipboard is also changing the sign-up procedure so that people who download the app beginning later on Thursday will be asked to provide their email address and will receive a notification at a later point when Flipboard is able to accommodate them.
Massive demand is a common issue for fast-growing Internet social networking services – On Wednesday, Twitter announced its own plans to bolster its service’s reliability by moving into its own dedicated datacenter in the coming months. And Facebook passed the half-billion user mark on Wednesday.
Flipboard may have the potential to make social media even more appealing to the masses — once people can actually use it, that is.