Five start-up products, features that flopped

Here are some of the features and products that didn’t work for companies such as Flipkart and Inmobi and were eventually rolled back


Flipkart launched a messaging platform Ping as part of its mobile app last September to chat with friends and family members who could share products, images and emoticons while browsing on the app. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Flipkart launched a messaging platform Ping as part of its mobile app last September to chat with friends and family members who could share products, images and emoticons while browsing on the app. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Mumbai: Over the past one year, Indian start-ups such as Flipkart and Inmobi launched bold product features such as Ping, Image Search and Miip, hoping these would become game changers. Some of the best talent at these companies were given millions of dollars and little time to develop these features. But despite their best efforts, the costly product experiments didn’t find favour with customers.

For example, the app-only move by Myntra, was simply misguided and disastrous. Here are some of the features and products that didn’t work and were eventually rolled back.

1. Ping, Flipkart

Flipkart launched a messaging platform Ping as part of its mobile app last September to chat with friends and family members who could share products, images and emoticons while browsing on the app.

With Ping, Flipkart was trying to move beyond the discount-led customer retention strategy and engage customers through a content and community-driven approach. But just 10 months later, in June, Flipkart discontinued the feature. Read more

2. Image Search, Flipkart

Along with Ping, Flipkart also launched an image search feature on its app. It allowed shoppers to upload an image of a product they would like to buy and browse similar products. Flipkart partnered with Singapore-based start-up, Visenze, to launch this feature. But like Ping, the customer uptake wasn’t nearly as good as Flipkart expected. Image Search was rolled back along with the messaging platform.

3. Helpchat’s chat feature

In July 2015, Coraza Technologies Pvt. Ltd rebranded itself from the online complaints redressal company, Akosha, to a messenger-based personal assistant, Helpchat. A user would type whatever she wanted in a chat box, such as a food order, a mobile recharge and other requests and Helpchat would fulfil the order.

Almost a year later, in May this year, Helpchat rolled back the chat service. The company decided to phase out chat from the app, and instead created an interface of do-it-yourself tabs for common and recurring needs such as laundry, grocery, phone recharge, tech support and food ordering, among others.

4. Miip Mascot, InMobi

Mobile advertising company inMobi Technologies Pvt. Ltd launched the beta version of Miip in July last year.

Miip had an animated face of a monkey that tracked users’ browsing habits across various mobile apps and showed ads based on user behaviour in the form of bubbles and animation. Consumers could make purchases within the platform itself and also interact with the mascot to tell it what they liked or how they felt about the products and the ads they saw. A year later, however, inMobi decided to indefinitely defer the roll out of the mascot function of Miip.

5. Myntra’s app-only move

While not a product feature, the app-only move by Myntra deserves mention on this list, simply because of the boldness and, ultimately, the scale of the failure. Myntra and its parent Flipkart both suffered grievously after the online fashion retailer announced in May 2015 that it will become an app-only platform. It was supposed to be followed by Flipkart. Better sense prevailed and Flipkart decided against it. Myntra, too, re-opened its website this June. But the damage was done as Flipkart lost out to Amazon on the desktop and created a huge distraction for its employees in attempting the experiment.

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