Before the year is out, Google will have acquired Pinterest

That’s a prediction not a fact. And I know predictions are dangerous but this one seems to have a solid rationale. I’ll explain.

First of all, if you missed the last month in social media, it was all Pinterest all the time. What is Pinterest? Well as David Pogue points out, it is exactly what its title says: a place to pin things of interest — like a pinboard but for the web. How does that work? You are surfing the web, you see something of interest, you click the ‘Pin it’ button on your browser’s toolbar and you can pin any pictures to Pinterest and sort them out. Who might use it? The modal use seems to be in wedding planning and keeping track of pictures of things to inspire a wedding. But, in reality, like, say, Evernote, it is a way of remembering things. And it is dead easy to use. That’s why it broke the speed record for reaching 10 million visitors in a month and that is still while it is ‘invite only.’ I joined out of curiosity and you can see my board here. I haven’t used it much but actually could imagine doing so; especially, as I see FailBlog pictures for use in class.

There is a big issue going on with respect to Pinterest actually making money. They are reluctant to use ads as this will clutter the site. There is the possibility of product referrals. But more critically there is a wealth of information. Currently, it is out there for anyone to see and use but what about the future?

If you look at what people are doing on Pinterest you can see that it is largely classification: sorting pictures into categories and also according to interest. There is also a social component — re-pinning — that allows you to gauge social aspects of picture sharing. Indeed, it is very similar to an activity that Google tried to incentivise some years ago with respect to image classification on Google Image Search. I couldn’t find an easy link since the service is no longer going on but Google asked people to tag images for them so they could learn what they were. There were leader boards and a club to it all. The point was, classification was a big issue for Google and it needed people.

Hence, my prediction on Google. Pinterest’s output is information and information of a kind that is particular valuable to a company trying to sort the world’s information. It is about as natural a fit as I have ever seen.

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