Facebook abandoned its longtime “Move Fast and Break Things” motto in April, but that doesn’t mean the company is completely accident-free.
Facebook jumped the gun on a product launch Monday, unveiling its new Snapchat-like messaging app Slingshot in multiple regions before pulling the app from the App Store entirely. The faux launch was an “accident” according to the company, claiming instead that the app will be “ready soon.”
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A premature app launch is often the result of a scheduling error by the developer, who has the ability to set a launch date for the app within iTunes. In the case of an iOS launch, if a date is set, but a specific region is not specified, the app will roll out, store by store, as the clock strikes midnight around the world. This is why accidental app launches often appear in Australia and New Zealand first, as did Slingshot.
It looks like this may have been the case with Slingshot, although Facebook wasn’t forthcoming about the details. What is clear, however, is that Facebook isn’t alone when it comes to accidental app launches — it happens pretty frequently, in fact.
While Facebook’s high profile may generate more attention for its accidental app launch than most, others have also pushed the publish button early on their app unveilings. Here are five other accidental app launches from the past few years.
Accidental App Launches
Google accidentally unveiled its MyGlass app for iOS in December, then pulled the app from the store almost immediately. MyGlass, the app used for managing and configuring Google Glass, was re-released just a few days later.
In a statement given to media about the accident, Google told users it “spilled the beans.”
BlackBerry accidentally released a highly anticipated version of its BBM Messenger to Android users last September. The app garnered more than 1.1. million users in its first 8 hours.
Unfortunately, the app was not technically ready. BlackBerry was forced to pull its Android version to fix the bugs, and also took down the iOS version which was live in the App Store. BlackBerry rolled out both apps a month later.
Oceanhorn, a mobile game often compared to the popular Zelda franchise, was accidentally released in March 2013 to users in New Zealand. According to app creators Cornfox and Bros., reserving a name for your game requires you to upload a workable version; the Oceanhorndevelopers did this 18 months before their launch date, and then forgot about it.
Oceanhorn offered users a refund on the game, but all seems to be well: the current version of the game has a 4.5 star rating on the App Store and was included by Apple in its Best of 2013app roundup.
Middle Managers of Justice
Back in 2012, Double Fine, a San Francisco-based game development company, accidentally released an early version of Middle Manager of Justice, a game about managing and training a team of superheroes. Like the makers of Oceanhorn, Double Fine set an app launch early to ensure it got its game into the App Store — then the company forgot about it.
While the accident was not ideal, Double Fine made the most of it; the company took to message boards to engage users and ask for their feedback. It turned an accidental app launch into a beta test.
Fox’s Family Guy
FOX and San Francisco-based gaming company TinyCo partnered in April to bring a new game called Family Guy: A Quest for Stuff to mobile users. The game was released accidentally in New Zealand, according to the gaming site Pixel Dynamo. When a user who downloaded the game shared footage of himself playing it to YouTube and Twitch, FOX apparently flagged the content and had it removed.
Long story short: Facebook isn’t the only company to perpetrate a less-than-satisfying app launch. We’re not sure when Slingshot will be unveiled (for real), but given Facebook’s knack for product announcements, we’ll know the real thing when we see it.