Looking back -- and we're only talking a about a week, here -- the only thing Rumblr would have needed was to somehow fake getting put in Apple's "Featured" section of the App Store to become the ultimate envy of the developer community.
Pretty much the whole world by now knows that Rumblr, described as a sort of "Tinder for Fight Club," never really existed. As hoaxes go, it was a pretty good one. A nascent creative services company, called simply von Hughes, eventually admitted that it was just "a funny idea, but quickly became much bigger than that." The swirl of media attention got so viral, in fact, that DigiDay later offered it up as a sort of case study in how Internet pranks work, even though it suggested lots of observers should have known better:
"From the beginning, the idea was filled with holes, including screenshots of a non-existent Instagram account, an illegal premise that Apple would never approve, a lack of Terms of Service that's standard on apps, a non-working number on its WhoIs domain database and cheap looking mock-ups (please, everyone with a phone knows that Verizon isn't written in all caps)."
Well, it's easy to say such things after the fact, but I bet that even a few developers were left scratching their heads and wondering why something like Rumblr, rather than their own app or mobile game, wasn't garnering similar attention. At a point when getting any kind of attention from consumers or even the media is becoming its own form of user acquisition cost, it's almost insulting that something this successful wasn't even real.
On the other hand, Rumblr might have been exposed even more quickly if a mass of potential users were installing it for a test drive. Maybe there just aren't that many angry people in the world, or perhaps Rumblr lasted for as long as it did because it was more of a news story than a potentially successful app. In fact, the novelty factor of its phony value proposition was quickly offset by media who were equally quick to punch holes in it. Those same media moved on almost immediately once the truth was known. In that sense, the media behaved like a lot of consumers do with real apps -- showing initial interest and willingness to download, and then quickly shrugging and removing it from their smartphone. Or just never bothering to actually try it at all.
Don't hope for Rumblr-like exposure if you're making an app or mobile game. Great apps aren't just talking points for media but something that makes some kind of positive difference in people's lives. Plenty of things that go viral -- like "Gangnam Style," for instance -- can become almost unbearable before too long. Just focus on creating something that's worth not only installing but using over the long term. The alternative is to struggle so hard for fame that by the end of it, you'll wish you could use Rumblr yourself. --Shane