On April 6, 2020, an app launched to stream videos and content exclusively on smartphones. The unique thing, yet a failure, where you can watch videos in 9:16 format or 16:9 format, why was it a failure? Only because the content was recorded in 16:9 format, so watching it in 9:16 format was basically crop & zoom video of a regular 16:9 format, which actually cut the full view of the video. Some clips surely get confusing due to its cropped view. So at the heart of its basic idea, it was not a working idea.
Quibi was launched by a Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP CEO Meg Whitman. Two professionals with strong backgrounds, but in reality, both lacked leadership skills and vision. They didn’t understand the insights of consumer behavior and the actual need of the market. They spent more than half a million dollars on marketing and placed an advertisement at the Superbowl match. Still, the ad actually confused the audience about what it is instead of creating curiosity.
Moreover, they didn’t even have the screen recording or sharing feature in their app. They failed to understand that it is the sharing feature that creates hype on social media platforms and attracts the audience instead of somewhere else. Quibi content was completely original and exclusive, but it wasn’t much of great ideas or stories. Therefore, they didn’t go much viral, except for one or two shows.
While their content was usually around 10 minutes, they signed huge celebrities that people wanted to see more of, which created a gap, and the top actors weren’t best fit for 10 minutes watching. In reality, the YouTubers and online content creators could’ve been a better idea for them, as more people were habitual of seeing short content from YouTubers. Also, those content creators knew how to create short videos more effectively than traditional Hollywood stars.
Quibi also failed to understand its competitors properly by kept saying they aren’t competing against Netflix. In reality, they were competing against Netflix and other streaming apps. On top of that, they were charging a huge subscription fee of $4.99 with ads or $7.99 without ads. It was a deal-breaker for many, as they can see that content for free on YouTube, Twitch, and other platforms.
With all these failures, Quibi actually failed to demonstrate the purpose of its existence effectively. That phenomenon actually confused many, and Quibi failed to convince the audience to switch people from other platforms to Quibi. Even if they used Quibi for a while, the app didn’t have something to retain its users to keep using or spend time on. Users were better off watching content on YouTube or Netflix instead of Quibi. This was a major flaw in their understanding of consumers.
In last, what Quibi was really missing was a story, a unique idea that they can build their brand with. And the weak leadership and vision added a multiplier effect on top of that. We can see that YouTube, Netflix, Disney, and Amazon all are doing something in their own unique way, and they are successfully positioning it in the minds of their users, so they stay connected with these platforms.
But, Quibi failed to build a vision around its app and successfully delivering it to the audience. Hence, they didn’t actually raise or saw any success and eventually went down the hill gradually.