Ever since Google announced that access to its then-new email application Gmail would be invite-only at first, startup founders have been angling to reproduce that same kind of fervor for their own services. But it wasn’t until the new iOS app Mailbox launched its innovative “reservation system” that we’ve seen anything come close to replicating the same level of demand that Gmail saw back in the day. And now, a new San Francisco-based company known as Queueing Theory wants to bring a Mailbox-like reservation system to any startup – especially those targeting mobile users.
Mailbox, which was recently acquired by Dropbox, generated interest in its application by first collecting sign-ups at a dedicated URL. Users were given a reservation number via SMS, which marked their place in line, as well as a Private Code to unlock the app once it became available in the App Store.
Though the company claimed that using reservations helped it with the strain on its servers, the system had another side effect as well – it made the buzzy new app feel like an exclusive club which only the coolest early adopters could access. Now other applications, like newly launched “smart calendar” Tempo, are utilizing similar systems – in Tempo’s case, it’s claiming that their efforts require “significant up-front email processing,” necessitating a reservation system of its own.
But why limit this feature only to email or calendaring apps? As any startup founder can tell you, getting hit by a heavy load of users can tank your servers quickly, leading to a poor user experience.
That’s where Queueing Theory comes in. It will introduce a Mailbox-like reservation system designed with the needs of mobile app developers in mind. Though the system has a web interface, it’s being targeted specifically at those who want to launch in the Apple App Store (and soon, on Android, too) before actually having the server capacity to support sign-ups from the general public.
Instead, users can sign up for their spot directly from the app or from the startup’s homepage. After providing their email address, users are given a spot in line, which is sent via SMS and appears upon subsequent app launches.
Where the company’s system varies from what Mailbox introduced, however, is that it’s building out a whole social network just for signing up for new App Store apps which are live, but only for “special” users. Startups can create a set of custom badges or stickers which then appear on Queueing Theory users’ profiles. With a glance, you can check out which apps your friends are signing up for, then click the stickers to sign up for the apps they’re waiting on, too.
There will also be a premium set of stickers that users can purchase for a nominal fee in order to move up in line. Users at the top of a line will also have a “golden ticket” sticker. Those who collect the most golden tickets for apps on the Queueing Theory system, will then receive discounts on additional “super queue” stickers in the future.
For developers, the system offers not only a way to quickly integrate a waitlist into their mobile app, but also a way to generate buzz and move up the App Store charts, ahead of anyone actually being able to use their application. (It’s unclear how Apple will respond to this, though.) Developers will also have an online dashboard where they can selectively filter sign-ups, create custom invite batches, design their “sticker set,” and more.
Hilariously, Queueing Theory hasn’t used its own invite system to collect interested users’ emails ahead of its official launch – instead, it’s hiding behind a Launchrock page here. The company says that development on its own system isn’t yet complete, but it will transition from Launchrock to a Queueing Theory page in the next few weeks. In the meantime, users can sign up here for access to that forthcoming page, which will then put them on the list to be alerted as to when the Queueing Theory sign-up page becomes available. Click here for more information.
UPDATE: Thanks to the (so far) nearly 200 people who signed up, but this was an April Fools’ Day gag. Because please don’t do this to your apps. Really, don’t. (In other news, maybe I’ll just go raise some funding for this thing?)