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Note to Interwebs: Pinterest Can’t Be, And Won’t Be, Only About Images.

By - January 21, 2014

pinterstPinterest is an interesting service – built entirely on the curation and sharing of images, and valued at billions of dollars. But when it comes time to lean into a business model, every service has to find and leverage its core DNA – and for Pinterest, it’s clear it can’t be images. That bus left a while ago (and Facebook was driving it, with Instagram riding shotgun and Snapchat….oh, never mind).

Anyway, two bits of news today that I think help us understand where Pinterest is going. First, Pinterest’s announcement that it’s getting into recipe search. And second, news that Pinterest is experimenting with GIFs.

To me, the conclusion is this: Pinterest is about collecting, curating, and sharing media objects, regardless of what they are. They can be images, which is how Pinterest got to its first jaw-dropping valuation. Or they can be….anything. Recipes? Sure. GIFs? Uh-huh. Web pages? Why not? Videos? Sure! Ummmm…files? Well, yeah, of course.

It seems everyone is converging on a simple set of facts: Our lives are digital, and we wish to share our lives. Pinterest came at it through images, artfully curated. Facebook came at it through friends, cunningly organized. Dropbox came to it via files, cleverly clouded. Countless others will come at the same opportunity through countless other ways. And countless others – Flickr, delicio.us, Friendster, Myspace – have already tried.

It’s getting a bit crowded, don’t you think?

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  • Gaurav Mendiratta

    Interesting article John! I think it might be more than sharing of lives though. Some might see it as a source of news or discovering new things and endorsements from friends/known names makes it interesting and tailored.

    • johnbattelle

      Our digits, our lives

  • Peter Caputa

    Well said, John. As I was reading about Pinterest’s move into recipe search this morning, I thought, “I’m surprised John Battelle didn’t see this one coming”. I’m pretty sure you called this one – just not specifically – in your book. Pinterest brilliantly executed where others failed. They figured out how to get users to organize information, then share it, browse other’s collections and now…. search via a structured format. It’s all of the stuff that delicious, digg, myspace, feedster and all of those guys tried to do, just all in one package and arguably…. just at the right time.

    • johnbattelle

      Yes, timing is so key…

  • Michael Brill

    What makes this more interesting than photos, video and updates is that it’s structured access to what’s *inside* the object. Providing tools for humans to organize content is one thing but with the shift to mobile and wearables, there’s no place or time for people to move stuff around. Contextual (or pick your favorite term) computing has to work with structured content and while there doesn’t seem to be any great innovation with this feature, hopefully it’s a baby step towards something much bigger.

    • johnbattelle

      Well said, indeed.