programs that we quickly forgot about

Short description

The article discusses various apps that had a moment of fame but have since lost popularity. Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game, saw huge success in 2016, but lost popularity within four months. Vine, an app for creating six-second videos, was bought by Twitter before it even went public in 2012 and became popular before eventually losing out to competitors. Other apps mentioned include GetContact, MSQRD, Periscope, Clubhouse, Prisma, Foursquare, Plague Inc., Aura from Yandex, and YARUS.

programs that we quickly forgot about

In July 2016, my colleagues and I went to VK Fest in St. Petersburg. On the site near the Gulf of Finland, there was a lot of cool and interesting in the field of VR/AR, 3D modeling, design, social networks and communities, Megafon rolled out a cool museum of memes, lectures by unique speakers were held in local industries. It would seem that there were enough impressions, but they were all overshadowed by Pokémon Go: forgetting about everything, the surrounding world caught Pokémon in squares, in parks, in subway crossings, at stations – pushed, fell, crashed into living and inanimate obstacles… “The world will not be the same,” echoed in his head. Of course, the world quickly became the same. Well, at least until March 2020. That did not exclude the shining supernova from the world of technology.

It is time to recall applications that were at the peak of interest and sank into the technological summer.

Pokémon Go

An extremely popular game with elements of augmented reality from the company Niantic, which conquered the market (reached 10 million downloads) almost three times faster than the record holder Angry Birds 2. Players looked at the world through the smartphone camera and caught Pokemon of all kinds and colors. Like any application that has become extremely popular, the game has been persecuted by the authorities and society: someone was embarrassed by the work with personal data, someone – numerous injuries and road accidents involving enthusiastic pedestrians. The game lost popularity in literally 3-4 months, but individual fans continued to catch Pokemon for quite a long time.


The application for creating six-second videos was practically not independent from a business point of view, Twitter bought it even before it went public in 2012. The market saw Vine in 2013, it quickly became popular and somewhat resembled the Telegram circles we know. The wars became a sociocultural phenomenon and gave birth to the first layer of video bloggers who used the term vine, even when the popularity of the service went into the past. Vine was used by journalists, policemen, politicians, and ordinary citizens for various broadcasts. The service lasted for more than two years, accumulating almost 40 million videos (for 2015, that’s great!). Unfortunately, Instagram and Snapchat didn’t leave Vine a chance — although conversations about it in the context of Twitter’s strategy occasionally surface.


Sly and sneaky service that showed (and still shows) how you are recorded in your friends’ phone. Meanwhile, user contact information could easily be passed on to developers and form an up-to-date and powerful phone database. It probably has the shortest amount of fame: the app’s popularity deflated in a matter of days, although it still survives “useful” releases, claims 400 million users, and is used for surveillance by angry family members and nosy colleagues. However, for 2023, it is a kind of tool of social engineering.


Do you remember the cute and scary animal faces on the faces of your friends in stories and online broadcasts? The masquerade was honorable! The program, developed by Belarusian developers, allowed users to apply “masks” to their faces in real time. At the end of 2016, MSQRD was among the top five most popular apps on Google Play, and was eventually bought by Facebook* (and some traces of it can still be found on Instagram*).


Another project bought by Twitter before its public launch. The ultra-popular app that took off for private streaming: the user could talk live and get different reactions to their video. For a short time, Periscope surpassed all other social networks in terms of registration, but, paving the way for accessible and simple streaming and micro-streaming, it could not withstand the competition and began to lose its audience. Since 2021, it is considered an officially closed social network.


The clubhouse is not even ours with you yesterday, it is ours with you “an hour ago”. The audio social network brightened the beginning of covid hell, self-isolation, and partly because of this situation, it became extremely popular. The guys got off to a good start: they invited celebrities and influencers, made restrictions for Android smartphone users (at first, the program was released only for iOS), offered an invite system (that’s why they recruited users rather slowly – 600 thousand in 9 months). The atmosphere of sophistication, elitism and intelligence was taking its toll. However, users quickly got bored of the audio format, the performances in the rooms became unavailable due to the behavior of the participants (the “mere mortals” simply did not have a turn), as a result, Clubhouse remains a niche social network, a kind of interest club.


An application that reached even the most persistent: no, no, but we all looked at ourselves in the performance of Van Gogh, in the form of a mosaic, in black and white hatching, etc. Of course, the neural network drew — and it did it very well. In six days, the Russian Prisma gained 10 million users — it took her one day less than Pokemon. In two months, the application processed more than a billion photos. The interest in the application was also short-lived, but it spawned a whole galaxy of applications on neural networks and partially – an entire industry of developing masks and filters for photos.

I borrowed a beautiful cat in prism filters from Pikabu


One of the long-timers, which actively increased users from 2009 to 2013, but stopped at its well-deserved 50 million. A hybrid of a social network, a geo-information service and a recommendation service, it helped to build travel routes, find friends and cool places on the map. Everyone tried to outdo their friends and become the “mayor” of the place – the interactive component made them tick with no less diligence than applying for a pass to EVERYWHERE in the office. After 2013, 4sq stopped building an active base, then tried to delegate check functions to the Swarm service, but the story did not take off. Needless to say, there were many disputes, discussions and suspicions related to 4sq – at least everyone wanted to get stuck in the territories with a special security regime 😉

Plague Inc.

Just a game that was. The game was played, but it did not become particularly legendary during its 8 years of existence. It’s simple: in 2020, the “plague” game had a large-scale PR campaign under the code name “Pandemic COVID-19”, interest skyrocketed. However, it soon returned to its normal values.

Well, something like that could actually be observed in 2021 on Yandex.Maps…

Aura from Yandex

In 2019, the unexpected launch of the social network “Aura” from Yandex took place. Other social networks were buzzing in attempts to find an invite, the most ardent users opened additional accounts on Yandex to receive more invitations. “Aura” promised to become a place of communication by interests, to give new tools for the development of a personal brand and to create a feed of news and publications that is customizable based on the interests of the user in the territory without a mat (it was coolly censored) – obviously, for 2019, the concept was late . A little later, an attempt was made to make “Aura” open and desktop, but it was also not entirely successful – the social network was soon closed.

I well remember the first hectic day of Aura’s release – because it was then that I wrote its first and only review on Khabri (I didn’t even test hotfixes in telecom at such a speed). I also wrote the second article, but my colleague told me about the closure – a little less than a year and a half later.

Aura had swipes!


ЯRUS was created long before the restrictions imposed on part of social networks, and it developed neither shakily nor cunningly – in the IT environment and on Habra, some interviews and even a full-fledged news-review slipped through, but there was no special interest. The outbreak happened at the moment of blocking Instagram*, then part of the requests went directly to the news on Habra, judging by the wild increase in views. However, it seems that love did not happen – the network exists, but without bright events and releases. Still, probably, the time of social networks in the friendship-tape-networking format is a thing of the past.

Of course, these are only some services that can be mentioned. There are others, some of which deserve whole articles: for example, Google Wave and Google+ (and if it deserves, then Habré definitely has: Google Plus Review and Why the Google+ social network failed), Google Hangouts (which turned into a decent Google Meet), FaceApp, etc.

You can talk about messengers, but here is a picture instead of a thousand words:

I remember well how in April 2021 I wrote the last message in Skype. Although business, for example, actively uses it for online presentations and demonstrations to customers

Why do apps die?

It will not be possible to answer the question unequivocally, but in general, several prerequisites can be identified.

  • The world operates as a model of rapid consumption: interest in a product or technology flares up and fades as soon as the audience gets excited. You can notice that our digest includes services for private users – precisely the mass of the audience that follows trends and fashion, without thinking about rational consumption (especially in a virtual environment). In the field of business applications, it’s a little different: the market is full of long-timers like Act! CRM (which remembers Rolodex), 1C, Salesforce, etc. Businesses have their IT infrastructure and operational work tied to such systems, but nothing is tied to users: even if the media content disappears, new ones will be removed.

  • The app quickly ceases to be of interest to developers and investors — the rate of audience growth and, as a result, profitability just decreases.

  • Some developers “jump out” of projects, realizing that their promotion, maintenance, maintenance and support is a big and expensive hemorrhoid. Especially often, founders are frightened by problems with capacity and information security, the observance of which is meticulously and almost maniacally monitored by users, hackers and the state.

  • The application can be the first, but not withstand the competition: for example, the same Twitter or VK has unlimited resources for development, and any most talented private project will either be absorbed or successfully suppressed by the “analog”.

But all these programs, like many others, leave a huge experience, pave the way for new solutions and change the market, demand, consumers and developers. They impose new demands on infrastructure, load management, security and scalability. Maybe nothing is changing for the audience, but the IT landscape is changing, and this role is far more important than a billion dog-eared pictures.

Now you and I live in the era of neural networks, the rise of ChatGPT, Midjourney, GPT-4, DALL-E, etc. It seems that this is the era of a great turning point: such artificial intelligence is in demand by both users and companies, and therefore there are many vectors of development. It is difficult to predict the future of these technologies: they may end up in the same digest in a year, or they may write it themselves. It all depends on the degree of complexity of AI, the readiness of developers to invest in development, and the audience – to find valuable and long-term use cases. It’s good that now we don’t have to wait long to see the future.

*belongs to the company Meta, recognized as an extremist organization and banned in the Russian Federation

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