What Went Wrong with Quibi?
Quibi was supposed to be the biggest app debut of 2020, a new video streaming platform created by Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP CEO Meg Whitman. The product’s appeal was obvious; a high-quality mobile entertainment platform offering compelling shows featuring top Hollywood talent, released in 10-minute installments.
Promising to ‘bring storytelling into life’s in-between moments’, Quibi (short for Quick Bites) targets the increasingly restless group of mobile entertainment consumers who favor short experiences over time-consuming ones, but the app has struggled to meet the high expectations of its founders.
Despite raising almost $2 billion in funding and building a platform that works well, the number of downloads remains disappointing. Shortly after launch, the app gained around 310,000 installs and has since hit 1.7 million. By comparison, Disney + gained over 10 million users after its initial launch in November of 2019 and has been steadily adding users in 2020.
While it is still early, and Quibi can be expected to gain momentum with all of the star talent and Hollywood prowess at its disposal, it has garnered a string of bad reviews with several app marketing specialists going so far as to suggest that its founders ‘don’t know how to win at mobile’.
If that’s true, it’s not for a lack of trying. Quibi has invested heavily in its marketing campaigns, releasing show trailers and platform previews and buying advertising time at the Oscars. They have showcased compelling content trailers but, as Eric Benjamin Seufert at mobiledevmemo.com noted; content doesn’t win on mobile.
In the mobile ecosphere, users expect compelling content and basic functionality to be delivered in a freemium format. The landscape of content providers is vast, especially in entertainment and gaming, and users have become accustomed to switching between apps and enjoying premium experiences for free. Content alone will not traffic, downloads, or subscriptions.
Quibi is pushing ad campaigns that feature trailers for shows that their potential users don’t know, and they are relying on their content to sell the platform. But in an environment where exciting free content is everywhere, the company has failed to focus on what makes them different.
They offer short chapters (10 minutes) of a story and that is ultimately their strength; the quick delivery of experiences and how that service fits with the lives of its users. In other words, instead of focusing on the content itself, Quibi should focus more on the convenience and experience it offers its users.
In that vein, one might argue that there is not enough social interactivity or gamification offered by the platform—two important elements to attract Millennials and Gen Z users, who are the primary consumers of mobile entertainment content. A quick perusal of Quibi’s offerings reveals that, even though many of the shows might skew younger, there are still a lot of shows that seem ill-placed, such as a weather update show.
This might suggest that Quibi has misjudged the interests of the users it needs to attract and isn’t pursuing them in a way that would catch their attention. In the mobile ecosphere, the user experience draws more users than specific content, so Quibi might benefit from adjusting its focus from premium shows to convenience and personalization.
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