yo app

Perception is a powerful thing.  When something isn’t popular, like Path anywhere outside of Indonesia, people have a lot of opinions on why it’s a lousy product.  When something seems to be a hit, like the Yo app, people have a lot of opinions on why it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

It’s all done on the altar of success.  Traction is the only truth that matters, and people will do whatever mental gymnastics is required to work their way backwards to explain that success (or lack thereof).  Our tech culture prides itself on being smart, but it is still one where outcome rules logic.

I already wrote about Yo, an app so unsubstantial that Apple didn’t even want to publish it to their store.  Yo didn’t make some kind of technological or usability breakthrough — it is successful because it’s so stupid in its simplicity that people find it a hoot to download and talk about.

Remember those “wassup” Budweiser ads that got everybody going wassuuuuup?

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I’ve resisted writing about Yo because, well, it’s a dumb app and I didn’t want to give it more PR than it already got.  You can use the app to send a Yo message to a friend.  Aaaaand…that’s it.  The app took one developer 8 hours to make.

Even Apple thought the app was stupid.  According to this excellent Business Insider’s article:

Yo launched quietly on April Fools Day, but Apple rejected its App Store application. Yo lacked substance, Apple argued. The pair fought back and defended Yo’s simplicity. Eventually, Yo was published.

And yet, today, over 500,000 people are using Yo.  The app reached #4 on the US iTunes app store and raised $1.2 million in funding.  Supposedly, they could have raised a lot more money if they wanted to.  Argh!  And what’s worse — Yo has even spawned copycats.

The tech industry can be a bit of a joke sometimes.

Yo is a marketing gimmick that people latch on to because using something really dumb can be really funny, and for many that’s real value.  I get that.

Yo isn’t even the first to hit humanity’s ironic goldmine.  Make it Rain and yes, Flappy Bird are two other examples.

As an industry outsider I’d find this app’s success hilarious.  Not so much as an insider, working hard to get our own app noticed.