Wednesday Grok: Pinterest is the new social networking contender. But can it last?

Microsoft, Apple, Google - why majors are minors in social media.

Is Pinterest the next Twitter, or just another Chatroulette? In case you are wondering Pinterest basically lets users pin images of interest to social cork boards. The site - founded by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp - recently claimed to be the fastest growing Web destination ever.

That may or may not be true and beyond the boast Grok can't find the uncontestable evidence to support that contention. But its growth is certainly explosive and it is also starting to generate the kind of coverage that suggests dedicated followers of internet fashion are hedging more towards the former characterisation than the latter.

It certainly passes Grok's cynical three phase threshold test even — it is easy to use, has serious white collar timewaster appeal and it will let teenage boys share pictures of teenage girls (but currently, and surprisingly, doesn't). So on these qualities alone, ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

But there's also a fourth test — let's call it the dialogue and relationship threshold — and just now, Pinterest seems a little asynchronous. But that could change quickly.

Here's what research house RJ Metrics has to say about them: "Pinterest’s traffic charts aren’t hockey sticks — they’re rocket ships. In our experience, when traffic is growing that sharply there is often something even more amazing going on under the hood. We wanted to see if the usage and engagement numbers for Pinterest were as remarkable as its traffic and gain insights into exactly what was driving growth. Unfortunately, the company has kept very quiet when it comes to its data."

But despite this reticence to share its data, RJM finds at least one cautionary stat to temper the hype. Stickability is suspect for Pinterest.

Or as Business Insider wrote about a growth spurt in registrations at the end of last year, a lot of users, "quickly became bored and stopped engaging with the site. The average number of pins by a user for his or her first 30 days on the site dropped significantly in November and December of last year, the same time Pinterest mentions in the press peaked."

That said, three of the best judges of social media success — Mark Zuckerberg, Women, and the International Pornography Conspiracy — have made their calls, all to the affirmative.

According to ZDNet , Zuckerberg "has joined Pinterest. He’s already more active on it than Google+, and could soon surpass his Twitter activity, but that’s not saying much."

Social media has always been slightly more pink than blue, but Pinterest looks like it blows any hint of a gender equality to smithereens. Blog site Geekosystem notes that fully 97 per cent of Pinterest's Facebook fans are female.

And as for the Sweaty Palm Brigade, the same article notes that porn clones are already starting to proliferate. Yeah, that will address any gender imbalance in very short order.

Enemies, frenemies, frenemies, enemies, let's call the whole thing off...

There's a timely piece over at Techcrunch by MG Siegler about the growing rapport between Microsoft and Apple, once bitter rivals, but now engaged in an informal and perhaps unholy alliance against their common foe — Google . And given that Google is its own worst enemy that makes it Three against One... hardly a fair fight, but since when did that ever matter.

There's also plenty of great links to background coverage in Siegler's story. That's a bonus for those of you over 30, and therefore possessing a memory that can absorb more than just the last three home pages you snacked on, on your way back to Facebook.

Trevor Gilbert treads adjacent territory over at Pando Daily, examining why three of the Tech sector's otherwise dominant players — Microsoft, Google and Apple are struggling in social media. The author dismisses Google+ as not adding real value for users although to Grok's mind that dismissal is just a little too convenient.

The premise of Gilbert's story is that through the era of personal computing the drive to build value exclusively though a channel — Windows for Microsoft and iOS for Apple — allowed these companies to dominate their turf. However such an approach runs contrary to the philosophy of social media, as evidenced by the contrary style of Facebook and Twitter, which will work with just about anyone if there's an eyeball to be captured.

Gilbert writes: "On the one hand, you have the old-school strategy that states that exclusivity is the best way to boost the value of a platform. On the other hand, you have the new-school strategy which states that cross-platform compatibility is critical to the success of a social network, and really any web service. This conflict is the central reason explaining why older companies like Apple have been unsuccessful at creating a social network."

While the article doesn't make the point itself, Google's recent behavior — its acquisition of Motorola Mobile, and its corruption of the search experience — looks decidedly old school.

Andrew Birmingham is the CEO of Silicon Gully Investments.

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