The Hurry Up and Wait Startup

I’ve gone on record with my general lack of enthusiasm for magazines on the iPad, at least the way they’ve been imagined so far, but I think the self-described “social magazine” Flipboard shows a lot of promise. It’s a smart idea but like a lot of the smartest ideas it’s not a particularly ingenious one on its face: the app aggregates recommendations and links to content made by people within your social network. The beauty is in its execution, which happens to be gorgeous and an example of truly superior user experience design (from what I’ve seen so far). Flipboard’s developers have built an impressive mechanism for automated layout intelligence, and the pages within the app winningly transcend the paradigm of digital templates as aesthetically unremarkable, one-size-fits-all showcases for content.

Unfortunately, Flipboard is also a victim of its own success. The initial reaction has been wildly out of scale with even the company’s most optimistic predictions, causing ridiculous backlogs for customers who want to experience the product in its entirety. In fact, based on these emails I received this afternoon — in which I was granted access to the full feature set and then informed that notice was a mistake — I would say that, sadly, Flipboard is currently writing a case study in how not to launch a product. It’s a shame, because I think they have real promise. I wish them the best as they get through this terrible start.

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  1. Yep, it’s a cool app but the ability to only have 6 boards and the fact I can’t synch up my Facebook kind of bothers me.

    Also, there’s a bit of duplication issues with stories but for a first release I expect things like this to be there.

  2. You literally took the words right out of my…CMS.

    I did finally get my invite for the social stuff, and it is a clever take on keeping up with your networks. Personally, I think the regular news stuff is more interesting — they’ve really built a great programatic design system like I haven’t seen before. I wish I could have more than the nine allotted sections, and I wish the Twitter and Facebook ones weren’t mandatory.

    But these are nitpicks. Overall, they’ve really put together something very interesting and innovative — it’s too bad they launch has been so terribly executed.

  3. True, they’re off too a rough start… But it really is a great app. I was lucky enough to get my Facebook and Twitter accounts set up on day one and I find myself using it daily.

  4. I’d agree with Tory. I managed to get it set up the first day, and it really is an app that gets better with each use. I know that’s no consolation to anybody waiting to get aboard, but I think it’ll be worth sticking with.

  5. I just came across this article on Flipboard for my iPad via Khoi’s Twitter feed and the world just about folded in on itself.

  6. Ditto Ryan. It’s only my first hour with Flipboard but its pretty exciting. Finding myself follow links I never would before because I can see what’s behind them.

  7. Ditto Ryan. It’s only my first hour with Flipboard but its pretty exciting. Finding myself follow links I never would before because I can see what’s behind them.