Bye Bye Artifact - The AI News Feed That Couldn't
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Last year, the founders of Instagram - yes, the Instagram - launched a brand new social app. Didn't hear about it? Well, this was a news app.
Artifact puts an AI and social spin on news by creating a custom news feed and adding social features like comments and upvotes to news articles.
Well, I should say "was" because Artifact just announced it's shutting down next month.
Why? Lack of demand. Let's have a look at the downloads.
News is a weird category to compete in because most people simply don't care enough and others care too much. From a business standpoint, you have to have something really novel to compete (and potentially beat) Apple and Google, not to mention a bunch of already-known news outlets.
Looking at the downloads, Artifact didn't.
According to our estimates, Artifact had a total of 444K downloads from the App Store and Google Play between its public release in February and December. To put that in context, SmartNews, a similar competitor, saw 2M downloads in the same period.
Artifact launched with a lot of buzz which led to a little more than 100K downloads in February, according to our estimates. But the trend turned negative by month two with downloads dropping rapidly.
By April, downloads dropped to 46K, and by June, to just 20K.
Competing with native options from Apple and Google without being muuuch better is tough, and that's what we see in these numbers.
In a statement on Medium, the team said "we have concluded that the market opportunity isn’t big enough to warrant continued investment in this way." And looking at the downloads it's very clear there was no product-market fit for Artifact.
Blaming the market is a lazy out though. Looking at trends of similar apps, this could have been clear before Artifact began development and examining them after launch could pushed Artifact to focus on what users really wanted.
The real trap too many fall into is building blindly and not looking at the market or the competition. I hope you're not doing that.
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All figures included in this report are estimated. Unless specified otherwise, estimated revenue is always net, meaning it's the amount the developer earned after Apple and Google took their fee.