Frontback started with a great idea: why not make a photo app that takes a snap from your phone's front and back cameras at the same time? That way you can share what's happening and your reaction. But great ideas aren't enough, and despite attracting two million users over two years in operation, Frontback is shutting down. The app's goal was to "capture a moment," says founder Fredd della Faille in a blog post announcing the news. "This was a fresh idea and truly the heart of our vision, a concept that’s seeing massive adoption today. Unfortunately, Frontback is not the winner."
The service will be closing on August 15th, with users given until September 15th to export their data. After that, says della Faille, "all photos and data will be permanently deleted from our servers." He adds that during this period Frontback's iOS app will be updated to become a stripped-down camera app "without social interactions or feeds," while the Android version will be removed from the Play Store altogether. In a tweet announcing the news, della Faille joked that the company had just bought Snapchat:
We just acquired Snapchat! Thanks @evanspiegel for joining our team. Ok jk, this is our message to our community: http://t.co/7Vb7IZLZpW— F. della Faille (@fredd) July 24, 2015
When the app first arrived in July 2013 it received positive write-ups from many tech sites — including this one. It went on to raise $3 million in venture capital that year, bringing its total funding up to an estimated $3.9 million. Notable users included Ashton Kutcher and the Prime Minister of Belgium, and there were rumors that Twitter had approached the company about a potential acquisition. But as della Faille told The Verge last year, Frontback wanted organic growth: "We don't try to acquire users... So the quality of the users is way, way better."
"we couldn't reach critical numbers."
Unfortunately, this focus on quality of users doesn't seem to have been enough, and della Faille says the app failed to attract enough people to become sustainable. "While we've seen exciting results with some communities, for most of the new members it takes too much time and effort to understand why Frontback is different, resulting in an infrequent use of our product," writes della Faille. "After discussions with our team and investors, we realized that we couldn't reach the critical numbers that would make Frontback a sustainable social network."
As della Faille suggests in his letter, although Frontback is dead, the concept it popularized survives, with companies like Samsung adding Frontback-style images to their smartphones. "We’re so very grateful for the love of our community, our investors, and our families," writes della Faille. "As we move forward, we hope some of the inspiration behind Frontback — a fun and beautiful way to capture your moments — will continue to live on the Internet."