I blame Robert Scoble aka scobleizer for his 'First look at “revolutionary” social news iPad app: Flipboard' post which led to a flipping iPad app taking over Twitter for most of yesterday. Some 24 hours late, Flipboard has thankfully dropped off the trending top ten list at Twitter, although it's a fair bet some of your online friends will still be tweeting about it. So what's all the fuss about?
The fuss, my friend, comes courtesy of two simple but very powerful keywords: Twitter and iPad. Put these two together and you are almost in social media hysteria territory, and that's exactly what has happened with Flipboard: an iPad client that turns Twitter, or Facebook for that matter, into a magazine.
" This is a very powerful and engaging way to read Twitter. You can also turn a single person’s Twitter account , or a single brand’s Twitter account, into a Flipboard" Scoble says, and he's right of course. But this isn't a review of Flipboard, you can see Scoble demonstrate it on YouTube, it's a story about how Twitter can help make or break a product.
Reports suggest that the Flipboard servers were struggling to cope with demand following the Twitter viral surge in interest yesterday. Many people were faced with a "Flipboard is currently over capacity" messages according to my Twitter feed. So much so that the developers of the app have now put an invitation only system into place in order to limit supply and ease the load.
One of the downsides of going viral like this is you cannot predict it, which can end up giving you bad publicity right at the point where you are keen to exploit the good stuff. Over on the official support forums for the product people are already complaining about the free app. One unhappy users writes "This is fascinating like a train wreck: awesome hype, awesome product, awesomely awful user experience due to lack of capacity".
There is also another, less welcome, downside of going viral: the inevitable Twitter backlash : comments such as "totally underwhelmed by Flipboard" and "I can't wait until Flipboard actually works. Literally. I'm deleting this app off my iPad" being prime examples.