Nike was heavily criticized on social media by iPhone users late last week after it appeared that users of Nike's SNKRS Android mobile app were able to access the surprise drop of its new Nike Queen Blazer Mid shoe before users of the brand's iOS app were given a chance to buy the limited-edition stock, according to Engadget.
The new shoe model, created in partnership with designer Virgil Abloh and tennis superstar Serena Williams, became available last Thursday through a feature that allowed app users to scratch an image to buy the shoe. However, to see the surprise offer, iOS app users first needed to log out of the app and log in again, Engadget reported.
The shoe sold out in seconds, with Android users apparently getting most of the stock. Nike later stated on Twitter, "We sincerely apologize for any confusion however, today's SNKRS Pass was available for both iOS and Android."
It has been a big year for shoe drops through mobile apps and social media, and in particular for Nike, which in May quickly sold out of shoes offered in conjunction with Facebook Messenger's new augmented reality feature, and had an even more successful sell-out of a Nike Air Jordan pre-release via Snapchat in February.
The confusion with this particular launch demonstrated how problems or misunderstandings with a new product launch via mobile or social media can quickly blow up through these same channels, angering loyal fans rather than building on the excitement and exclusivity that sneaker drops bring to devotees. It's not clear exactly what happened here, whether Nike should have been more clear about what iOS users needed to do, or if there were other problems, but it will be important to make sure users are confident with the channel going forward.
We sincerely apologize for any confusion however, today's SNKRS Pass was available for both iOS and Android. Let us know if you need anything else.— Nike (@Nike) October 25, 2018
Nike's SNKRS app has been around since early 2015, and was designed, according to the brand's original announcement, to be consumers' "inside source for highly coveted Nike footwear." That means the SNKRS app users are likely among the most loyal and engaged Nike shoe buyers — the so-called "hypebeasts" that will do pretty much anything to get a new exclusive product.
Consumers in tune with limited-edition shoe launches through this kind of app understand that they're in an urgent competition to buy. When they get the feeling someone else got an unfair edge it can cause damage to the relationship between the consumer and the brand. The confusion may not have been Nike's fault in this situation, but whether or not that was the case, Nike needs to make sure it gives its most engaged customers a level playing field on which to compete.