Ello, A Case Study In App Adoption By The Gay Community


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The great gay Facebook exodus begins

Ello launched in March to a whisper and now suddenly finds itself experiencing incredible growth. It is the first time where my non-tech “normal” friends had heard of a startup prior to me. I find the critical mass surrounding it fascinating, but unsurprising.

The gay community has long felt undermined by Facebook, first with the exclusion of non-gender-specific pronouns and now with the removal of accounts using stage names, primarily those of fabulous drag queens. In their eyes, Ello gives them the freedom to be themselves in a way they aren’t currently finding on Facebook.

I live in the Castro, San Francisco and have many, many LGBTQI friends. Chatting with one of my queer-identified housemates tonight about Ello, I mentioned how it was experiencing an insane amount of sign-ups. Her response: “The queers will mobilize.”

Sound familiar? It bears repeating: if you want your product to get adopted quickly, focus on the gay community. And prepare your servers.

facebook for iphone: OH COME ON.


Rarely do I rant. At least publicly. People who are close to me will tell you that I will spout off without thinking, but at least that is in private. However, since I’m now writing about mobile apps on a (semi-) regular basis, apparently, I’d be remiss not to take a moment to address the horrible, horrible Facebook for iPhone app.

Their mobile product has always been lacking. It took them quite some time to develop their iPad application, which was hiding in plain sight for MG to discover. The developer who built the product was forced to watch it sit on the back burner five months after finishing it. The iPhone app has been going downhill since October 2011, as documented on several forums (including a page on Facebook, naturally). This makes no sense to me if the mobile user numbers reported on back in December 2011 are accurate; and they are. Wouldn’t you want an incredibly large section of your users to be happy? Wouldn’t you want to capitalize financially on that untapped resource? Apparently not. From Facebook’s IPO filing:

We do not currently directly generate any meaningful revenue from the use of Facebook mobile products, and our ability to do so successfully is unproven. Accordingly, if users continue to increasingly access Facebook mobile products as a substitute for access through personal computers, and if we are unable to successfully implement monetization strategies for our mobile users, our revenue and financial results may be negatively affected.

Baffling. And infuriating from a user perspective.

An informal poll at a dinner party I attended tonight found that 95% of the people there are frustrated with the app. (The other 5% accounts for the gentleman who hails from the Valle de Noe and doesn’t use Facebook.) The complaints are all the same: slow, doesn’t load, stalls, crashes. A question has been posed on Quora beseeching an answer, but you’ll notice the thread is quiet. A more recent answer on a separate Quora thread echoes what seems to be the overall sentiment and one that Facebook needs to address soon. Else I’ll need to take a break from it permanently before I have a rage induced stroke, as only technology can produce.