Saturday, April 21, 2012

iGenapps MyApps - What not to do if you're a startup.

I have been interested for the past two days  in an app that has shown great promise.  My Apps is an app from a company called iGenApps available for the iPhone that promises to change the landscape of iPhone programming, by bringing self-made apps to the masses, without the need to learn cumbersome code.  The app is available for $1.99 at the app store and its 3rd iteration was brought into the light by a road show that took the web by storm this week.  At a demonstration at a conference, appropriately named DEMO.COM,  the company was able to show how easy it is to develop a rudimentary application on the iPhone and make it available as a web app for usage by anyone to whom you email the web address.   

I actually stopped dictating my charts after I saw the demo on thursday and proceeded to drop 2 hours into creating an app that I've been toiling over for my call group.  In the space of 20 minutes I was able to create the app that I had toiled over in Objective-C for months.  Granted the UI was relatively generic and standard, it was perfect for what I needed it for.  And 20 minutes would have been all that I needed to create, distribute and sing the praises of this app until something went terribly wrong!

I was unable to see a preview of my app.  I tried several times, but could never get the chance to see what my app actually looked like in the wild.  I tried different things, even having one of my partners sign up and recreating the app through their account. But to no avail, the app would get stuck in trying to do a preview.  I knew that I was not alone when a few other users started mentioning this on the comments section of the App store.  So I sent an email to the company, followed by a message to their Technical Support team (which the app stated to use) and then on Twitter.  Despite all three modes there was no response from the company.  Tweets on Twitter from other users were not useful, with a plethora of retweets supporting the view of how much of a game changer this app would become.  But it was obvious that none of the people tweeting had actually used the product.  There were no negative tweets except my own.  I assume that the company, an obvious startup, had become oblivious to the negative comments in the App store since they were on their road tour .

I would like to assume that there was oblivion and that the company was completely unaware, because the deafening silence was essentially disturbing.  I managed to see the wonderful reviews on the App store go from 5 stars for version 1.02 of their software to 1 star for the current version 1.03.  I obviously wished that I was privy to the earlier versions.   This is a problem for startups that I have seen on several occasions - How to communicate with your customers when things go wrong?  And quite honestly, I think that this is probably the worst thing that could have happened to iGenApps.  Imagine being the leaders of a company, performing an incredible demonstration, wowing the internet community, even stopping a physician in his tracks from dictating so that he could look at this sensational app, only to have a server go down.   With such worldwide attention, it would seem that even if there was a disaster on a server, the company would get ahead of this and mention it in a tweet or on their web site.  Apple does this!

As of this writing a few people have written that they have received word that there is a server issue at iGenapps and that it is directly affecting the Previews.  It is hoped that they will correct this by the end of this weekend.  But the real problem here is that we are finding this out through other users who are lucky enough to get an email.   This is not a good idea for a company that is poised to be a game changer.   Other companies are using Twitter or at the very least, releasing server updates on their website.  But this deafening silence is awful.

I personally see this company and its product as game changers.  I think that there will be more companies coming to the forefront who will do the same, if not better, but IGenapps needs to improve on its ability to communicate with its customers if it is to lead in this nascient category.