Not many tech CEOs would have the guts to describe their products as “magical” and as delivering “pure happiness”, but that’s exactly how Pearltrees‘ Patrice Lamothe describes the startup’s iPad app released today. You know what? He may just be right.
Pearltrees is a service that takes a visual approach to Web curation. Launched late last year with its browser-based version, it allows you to create networks of ‘pearls’ on screen. Each pearl is a link to a piece of content and you can connect them together in whatever way you choose into a ‘pearltree’. It may sound a little complicated when written down but it makes perfect sense within a few seconds of using it.
Everything’s public on Pearltrees, so searching for ‘iPhone’, for example, will bring up all the iPhone-relates pearltrees created by 200,000 users the service has amassed so far.
Now the iPad app brings a whole new dimension to both curation and content discovery. Pearltrees’ interface was made to be touched, and the iPad app delivers that completely, letting you easily organise pearls of content found through the iPad’s standard browser.
As with the browser-based version, all the pearltrees you create are public, meaning that you’re contributing to a huge ‘interest graph’ that Pearltrees is building up behind the scenes.
That’s where the discovery element of the app comes in. Tapping ‘Related interests’ lets you explore the vast sea of data that Pearltrees has built up, using information pulled from the pearltrees you’ve created yourself in order to determine your interests.
Scroll your finger slowly to uncover closely related pearls, or scroll quickly to see a wider variety of related content. Patrice Lamothe describes the experience similar to the happiness felt by a child playing with his or her favorite things, and it really is fun to scroll around a visual map, zooming in and out with a pinch, exploring related items which can preview with a tap.
The bookmarklet included with the app is probably the only stumbling block to the whole experience. requiring a slightly contrived setup process. However, that’s due to the way Apple’s mobile browser works as opposed to anything Pearltrees could do, and the setup process is clearly explained within the app during a beautifully presented user guide. A text-based search facility, as featured on the website, would be a worthwhile addition to the serendipitous discovery currently featured in the app too.
With 200,000 users generating 15 million page views per month, Paris-based Pearltrees seems to be onto something with its unique approach to organising content. While still concentrating on building its product offering and audience, it plans to generate revenue by the end of this year or the start of next, offering premium features such as the ability to offer private pearltrees that don’t contribute to the wider interest graph.