Lessons learnt from the GPush debacle


What GPush debacle?

For those who are unfamiliar with what I’m writing about, there WAS an iPhone app called GPush that was SOLD – by Tiverias Apps – through the app store from around July 2009. It offered real time push notification of new email to your iPhone account from GMail. The vendors used your (provided) email account details to poll the google servers FREQUENTLY and then sent a push notification WITH an excerpt of the header to your iPhone. Its reliability appeared to fluctuate but when it worked, it worked well.
Unfortunately there were multiple occasions GPush stopped working – and Twitter bore the brunt of the complaints process. Tiverias Apps did NOT have a good reputation for consistent customer service and would seem to go silent/unresponsive for extended periods of time.

On December 25th 2010 (Australian time) the following appeared in my in-box:-

Dear GPush user,

Thank you for your loyal use of GPush. Unfortunately, we have determined that the value added by GPush beyond such products as Google’s own push notification service is not sufficient to merit our continued maintenance of the service. We will therefore be shutting the service down as of December 31, 2010.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Sincerely,
The GPush Team

Is that supposed to mean Merry Christmas??

Now – I may be cynical about the timing, but I do wonder if they THOUGHT that there would be less of an outcry over the holiday period! At the same time the website disappeared from the web….Now it ends up as a godaddy parked page.

As expected there was a bit of an outcry on Twitter. Users decried the loss of service with some asking for a refund for the app they had bought. The only response to a refund request was:-

…..please contact apple directly,¬† we have no way to issue one, we’re sorry.

Along the way, they have suggested that:-

  1. They would be willing to sell the business and are looking for a buyer.
  2. They are going to keep the business running

Now – once again they have gone silent and GPush is dead. I have solemnly declared it a #ZombieApp.

So where are we now?

Older and wiser I suspect! Once you look at it, I don’t see how this could have survived. The business model is fundamentally flawed from the outset. Any company offering a sole product as an ongoing – time unlimited – service with no revenue stream can simply not survive! How on earth did Tiverias expect to maintain the infrastructure required to provide the service?? Why did we – the users – expect them to be able to?

Lessons learnt:-

Any PAID app that offers an ongoing service either needs

  • A strong associated advertiser base to generate income (Not popular with paid apps users) OR
  • A subscription model to generate income (As seen with some newspaper apps) AND/OR
  • Multiple OTHER revenue streams to support a non-revenue generating product (Google is a classic!)

To expect it to survive otherwise is naive at best and stupid at worst.

I am surprised that Apple allows these sort of apps onto the store and do wonder what provision for abandoned users exists within the Apple – iPhone App-store framework….?

I – for one – will think twice about plonking down money (how ever little) for another App based on this flawed model.

As for Tiverias Apps postulated plans…. I can NOT see another company buying their buisness for the stated reasons above. PERHAPS they will sell their user base/lists – and that raises a whole lot of issues about their right to sell it.

Lastly, with  respect to your GMail account, the user-name and password of which you gave to Tiverias-

YOU HAVE CHANGED YOUR PASSWORD HAVEN’T YOU?

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