What’s Next for Pinterest
Though some Web companies seem to have product surprises around every corner (ahem, Facebook), Pinterest’s road map is actually relatively obvious. For all its popularity and next-big-thinginess and $1.5 billion valuation, Pinterest is missing a bunch of significant components.
In my conversations with people in and around Pinterest, it has been clear that the 40-person company is adding these features as quickly as it can hire and build — all the while keeping up with demand.
But I’ve also been warned that, like many of the products its users save, Pinterest wants its products to feel handcrafted and unique, so it may be a bit slower than some might hope.
So what’s next for Pinterest?
Android: Pinterest showed off its Android app for phones and tablets this week at Google I/O. The new app will feature pinning from other apps on the phone and a multicolumn design (the iPhone version is more self-contained and only has one column). Developer Carl Rice, who joined Pinterest in April, told me that the app would be released later this summer. (That’s me, pictured at right, holding the latest version on a Nexus 7.)
Internationalization: This morning, Pinterest released some of the first translated versions of its site in Iberian Spanish and Brazilian (following American English and Latin American Spanish). Fast internationalization is an increasingly pressing problem for buzzy start-ups, because they face clones earlier than ever.
That was also part of the justification for the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten becoming Pinterest’s latest lead investor. Insiders told me that Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann was particularly interested in the Japanese market because of its aesthetic focus, which he felt aligns well with the site.
iPad: Want to look at big photos of pretty things? Yup.
Open sign-ups: Pinterest still doesn’t allow new users to register for the site; they have to register to request an invite. It’s part of the mystique, sure, but it’s not key to Pinterest’s product, and it certainly inhibits growth. That has mostly been a way to meter access and defend against spam.
But it can be awkward and annoying. Imagine, for instance, that you’re not a registered Pinterest user, but you’re checking out Facebook and see something posted by a friend from Pinterest that you like. You click to get to the site, but are told you can’t get in. You sign up, then you wait a day or so, then you get an email, then you redeem that email while making sure you don’t lose your code. And where were you again? Not on Pinterest.
API: Pinterest is “actively working to make the API available soon,” according to Cat Lee from the platform team on Quora.
Private boards: Right now, all Pinterest activity is public. The company has indicated that will change in the future — for instance, to allow someone to plan a surprise party or save pictures of wedding dresses where the groom can’t see. In March, Pinterest telegraphed the introduction of private boards with new terms of service and privacy policies.
Search: Pinterest may be more of a discovery site, but its search is really not very good.
Attribution and sourcing: Pinterest benefits from the free sharing of images, but it doesn’t want to get in trouble with copyright owners. It has recently introduced attribution for specific sites, and it seems likely that the company will soon work on better ways to capture more metadata.
And while we’re on the topic, there was a suggestion earlier this week that Pinterest had overtaken Tumblr’s traffic in the U.S. (The sites aren’t direct competitors, but they both cater to visual and easy self-expression.)
Since the estimate from Pingdom was based on extrapolated data, I asked comScore for its actual traffic measurement of Tumblr and Pinterest in the U.S. and worldwide.
ComScore replied that Tumblr still has the edge, though it’s close in the U.S. As of May, Pinterest had 20.3 million U.S. monthly unique visitors, while Tumblr had 25.3 million.
Worldwide, Pinterest had 31.9 million uniques in May, while Tumblr had 69.7 million.