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Three Mobile Trends that Died Prematurely


Three Mobile Trends that Died Prematurely

Camelia Gendreau July 22, 2014

Do you remember the “Tamagotchi” – the tetris-like keychain ‘pets’ that you had to digitally ‘feed’ and play with and were all the rage back in the 90s? It’s probably a foggy, distant memory … But that’s the fate of many fads that, like the all-banana diet, have their moment in the sun and get us all excited only to vanish into the black hole of discarded ideas.


Mobile isn’t any different – here are three trends that lit up the imagination of marketers not too long ago:


Admit it! You felt a pang of jealousy when your co-worker became the office Mayor practically overnight on this cool new thing called Foursquare. Or the late Gowala.  In the beginning, rewards were flowing left and right and check-ins seemed like an unstoppable machine of marketing potential. Everyone was jumping on the bandwagon and becoming the Mayor of something or other. And then dating apps caught on to the checking-in trend, as well, and tried to emulate Foursquare’s success, which misfired for obvious reasons: sharing your exact location with total strangers, potentially stalkers – not a good idea. Red flags around sharing real-time location data, coupled with the check-in’s failure to live up to its potential, Facebook and Google’s unenthusiastic entry into the space, all conspired to deflate public enthusiasm for checking in. Consumers and brands quite literally checked out.

Second screen apps

Not so long ago, marketing brains were convinced that social TV was the ‘next big’ thing. The TV screen was the ‘primary screen,’ went the wisdom, and since everyone was using their phones, laptops and tablets while watching TV, it made sense to bombard them with ads and other content that was inspired by what they were watching on the primary screen. Right? Right! Because what consumers want is more ads! ViggleGetGlue, Matcha, Tunerfish, Screentribe, Twelevision, Otherscreen, BeeTV, Numote or Philo  – remember them? Dead as Dodos. Yahoo also shuttered Intonow, the social TV service it had acquired during social TV’s heyday. Now, some argue, the only real second screen apps are Twitter and Facebook, and that’s a label even the two social media giants shy away from.

QR Codes

Do you even notice the pixelated black and white squares on outdoor advertisements anymore?  The once-ubiquitous QR codes were once considered the Holy Grail at the intersection of digital and physical – and many brands jumped on the bandwagon. QR codes were everywhere – from billboards to disposable coffee cups and even toys. One of the better-known QR code mishaps was Buick’s mobile marketing campaign that pointed to QR codes that had no tangible call to action. The code sent you to a video and from there… the void. No website link, no product page, no dealer locator, no reviews page. QR codes did, eventually go almost viral, but not in the way everyone hoped, on WTFQR, a website that collects QR code fails. In the end, their sheer unattractiveness and the requirement that consumers download an app to scan it made adoption an uphill battle that few brands stuck to. They still pop up here and there, but as far as the ‘next big thing’ is concerned, RIP QR!