- A little-known social media app called Vero is creating a lot of buzz with a surge in downloads that pushed its ranking to the top 10 in Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Vero in the past week rose to the No. 4 spot for social apps and No. 30 overall on Google Play in the U.S., per data provided by App Annie to Mobile Marketer.
- The app also has apologized for being overwhelmed with new users trying to register accounts, which requires the extra step of SMS verification. Images of the app shared on Twitter show that its user interface looks like a dark gray version of Instagram, but without the Stories feature across the top of the screen. Users also complained about being unable to send posts or load the names of friends.
- The app was started in 2015 by Ayman Hariri, the billionaire son of assassinated Lebanese leader Rafic Hariri, per Slate. Vero currently is free to download and doesn't have ads — like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook were in their early days — but will eventually move to a paid-subscription model, per Slate.
If there is a lesson in Vero’s surge in popularity, it’s that people are looking for some kind of alternative to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook-owned Instagram for one reason or another. Each of these dominant social media apps has disaffected users. Facebook has been criticized for growing too dominant in online media (along with Google), for letting Russian agents meddle in the U.S. election with sock-puppet campaigns, distributing "fake news" and cluttering its news feed. Twitter is a bastion of hate speech, anonymous trolls and bots posing as real people. Instagram is said to be ruining photography with endless clichéd images and rearranging user feeds with algorithms. Snapchat’s redesign this month has spurred protest and frustration for long-time users. Then again, these companies are working to fix these issues to make their platforms more appealing.
The surge in Vero’s ranking may be a short-lived phenomenon since Apple's App Store has an algorithm that highlights apps with a spike in activity to make them more easily discoverable among millions of apps. Vero was getting close to 1 million sign-ups at one point, and was working to cope with the growth in traffic, per Slate. Last week, the app saw 11x the level of weekly iOS and Google Play combined downloads than the prior 4-week period, the kind of surge that would make any app developer salivate.
Vero has a long way to go before it reaches the scale of a Facebook, with 2.2 billion users worldwide, or even Snapchat, with 187 million users. The upstart, which appears to have solid financial backing from a billionaire, needs to develop a strategy that can be scaled more rapidly before users get frustrated and abandon the app. But having a rich owner isn’t a guarantee of success, either, as Google Plus and MySpace demonstrated in their inability to withstand the Facebook juggernaut. The history of social media is littered with websites and apps that flamed out for one reason or another, like Classmates, Six Degrees, Friendster and Orkut.