New Photo-Sharing App Lapse Soars To The Top Of The App Store With Controversial Invite-Only Strategy


A new photo-sharing app called Lapse has skyrocketed to the number one spot on the U.S. App Store by implementing a unique and controversial growth strategy. Unlike other invite-only social apps, Lapse takes it a step further by requiring users to invite their friends in order to gain access to the app’s features. This approach has sparked a debate within the tech community, with some praising its innovation and others criticizing it as a pyramid scheme.

Key Takeaway

Lapse, a reinvented social camera app, has gained immense popularity by forcing users to invite their friends in order to use the app. While this growth strategy has been polarizing, Lapse has managed to reach the top of the App Store and attract a significant user base.

The Concept Behind Lapse

Lapse was created by co-founders and brothers Dan and Ben Silvertown, who were inspired by their own experience of using a point-and-shoot camera to disconnect and unwind while traveling. They wanted to recreate that feeling in a mobile app format, allowing users to take pictures with delayed viewing and share them with a group of friends.

Initially launched in 2021, Lapse underwent significant changes to address users’ evolving needs. The app now offers a curated photo album feature and user profiles to cater to those who use it more as a photo journal. This revamped version of Lapse was tested using TikTok ads and was officially released to the public in June 2023. According to the co-founder, Dan, the app’s recent growth has been 100% organic.

The Controversial Onboarding Process

Lapse’s onboarding process has garnered mixed reactions from users. Upon downloading the app, users are greeted with a visually appealing and interactive onboarding experience. However, they are then required to verify their phone number, grant access to their contacts and camera, and invite at least five friends before being able to use the app.

While some users appreciate the social aspect of inviting friends to join, others find it intrusive and spammy. Venture capitalist Sheel Mohnot expressed his dissatisfaction, stating that he felt “dirty” participating in what he considered a pyramid scheme.

Lapse’s Rise to the Top

Despite the controversy surrounding its onboarding process, Lapse has proven successful in attracting users. Market intelligence firm reports that the app has approximately 1.2 million installs worldwide, with the majority coming from the U.S. market. Since September 10, Lapse has climbed from its previous rank of 118 to secure the number one spot on the App Store.

It is worth noting that Lapse differentiates itself from previous controversial apps by requiring user consent before sending out invite messages to their friends. While the strategy may be working in the short term, the app’s true test lies in retaining and engaging its user base in the long run.

With an $11 million mega-seed round of funding and the support of prominent investors, Lapse now faces the challenge of turning its hype into a sustainable and profitable business. Only time will tell if the app can overcome this hurdle and solidify its position in the competitive photo-sharing market.

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