Just 10 days ago Pearltrees, the Paris-based social library tool which allows you to organize all things digital, launched the iPhone version. The app, which acts similarly to the already existing iPad and Web apps, allows users to organize “pearls” of information into categories, which can be shared, organized in a tree-like system, and can even be mutually editorialized by several parties.
Pearltrees: Think less like ReadItLater, more like Evernote
When I first heard about Pearltrees earlier this year when they announced a monumental round-raising of €8.5M, I had a little trouble wrapping my head around why it was so popular (500K active users). I kept thinking about ReadItLater, Instapaper, and all these other bookmarklets that kept trying to convince me that if I bookmark a blog article, that i’ll come back and read it later (yeah, right!). But when I sat down with Patrice Lamothe last week for lunch, the first thing he did was dispel this idea of Pearltrees being an organized bookmarklet. He began describing the use case of Evernote – creating content, bringing in other content from around the web, organizing it according to your interests – and I began to see where Pearltrees sees itself. If you look past the arguably cheesy “pearls” on the screen, you begin to see that what you have is the ability to create, curate, store, and share a library of information that you’ve collected.
In testing out the application, I created a pearltree for all the Rude Baguette’s official web presences, a similar pearltree for my own web presences. Then, wanting to get a good tree of French startups, searches “French startups” and came up with a list that someone else had already created. I wanted to organize it a bit, but it wasn’t my own tree, so I requested to “team up” with the author, which allows us to mutually control the list. Lastly, I created an album directly from my iPhone app about my trip to Lille, France, and I uploaded photos of restaurants and cool places I saw directly to the app, and organized it right there. Now, if anyone wants to find photos of Lille, France, they can take mine and add it to their own list.
The App is not quite there for me, but it’s a step in the right direction
I had tried out several “organizer” tools in the past – I’ve got the reminents of an Evernote premium account sitting idly on my iPhone – but frankly, the thing just didn’t stick. While pearltrees doesn’t pretend to be document editor, it does make a good point that the formatting of the content isn’t nearly as important as the organization of said content. This was definitely a + for me when using Pearltrees.
On the other hand, when I was taking photos and uploading content from my iPhone, I was upset to find that there was no location information option, which meant I had to make a note of which street I was on when I took the photo. I may be a minority in this respect, but it seems that when users take pictures and videos on our smartphones, there is a certain aspect of that information which revolves around where it was done, and it is a not-insignificant piece of information to tack on to the photo/video.
The elusive Pearltrees Business Model
In the wake of Chris Dixon’s article stating that 10M users is the new 1M users for fund-raising, it seemed pertinent to ask Lamothe about the potential pearltrees business model. Laughing, he told me that more details about that will be coming out in September/October, but that there is indeed a business model coming, 2.5 years after the product’s initial launch at LeWeb 2009. He said that, while Pearltrees is inherently social and public, there will always be those who wish to have privacy in their library – users will have the option to pay to mix their public and private pearltrees.