More recently, though – in June 2012, to be precise – Parker and Fanning unveiled a new video-calling app called Airtime. It allowed users to video-call their Facebook friends and even connect with strangers on Facebook based on common interests.
Celebrities including Jimmy Fallon, Joel McHale, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Snoop Dogg and Alicia Keys were all involved in the app’s launch. Unfortunately, Airtime was a complete flop, despite its star-studded commencement. Even the debut itself was riddled with failure as the app glitched out and crashed several times during the product demo. Almost two years later, Airtime has completely fizzled out.
So, what does Airtime have to do with OkHello? Everything, actually. In fact, OkHello – a mobile video chat app – is simply a rebranded version of Airtime. The difference is that, this time, Parker and Fanning launched it without so much as a peep.
You can’t blame them for keeping OkHello under wraps for so long. After all, when Airtime failed to live up to its exaggerated expectations, merciless ridicule ensued. It’s no mystery why the two co-founders decided to quietly introduce their latest product.
Source: Masquesous Tumblr
So far, their method seems to be working. OkHello has almost constantly remained among the top 100 apps downloaded from the App Store since its release. Of course, OkHello could simply be gaining good favor from app users because it’s a better product than Airtime.
In hindsight, it’s hard to say whether Airtime would have fared better if the launch had been a little more humble. It’s safe to say that it would have at least received less ridicule at its failure if Parker and Fanning had acknowledged the limitations early on.
Clearly, there’s a lesson to be learned here: if you’re an inexperienced startup, don’t overhype your company or the backlash following a product failure could be intense. Maintaining public relations may be important, but it’s much easier to get off the ground, change directions and – if it comes down to it – fail outside of the limelight.