It must have seemed like a great idea on a whiteboard: create an app that allows people to post questions to a social network specially designed to field queries. After all, crowdsourcing is supposed to solve any and all problems at blistering speed, leveraging dozens, hundreds, even thousands of brains.
But will Jelly (which boasts Twitter co-founder Biz Stone as its CEO and co-founder) ride that strategy to fame and enormous financial returns? (U2 frontman Bono, an early investor, certainly hopes so.)
“Using Jelly is kinda like using a conventional search engine in that you ask it stuff and it returns answers,” reads the startup’s introductory blog posting. “But, that’s where the similarities end.”
While Jelly bears precious little resemblance to a “conventional” search engine such as Bing or Google, its functionality is akin to simply posting a question to your friends on Twitter or Facebook, which is something millions of people already do every day.
So what makes asking a question on Jelly different than asking a question on other social networks? Well, Jelly focuses on the querying process—your question is less likely to be lost in your friends’ endless tide of random postings and photos. You can also take a photo, circle a portion of it with your finger, and ask your Jelly network about that particular detail (“What kind of tree is on the left?”), which isn’t quite as easy to do in Twitter or Facebook—with those social networks, you’d have to open a third-party drawing program to accomplish that feat, a process that could take all of forty-five seconds.
In order to quickly create a Jelly network, users are prompted to allow the app access to their Twitter and Facebook contacts, effectively duplicating their social networks—and again, possibly raising questions about Jelly’s redundancy.
If the app proves a smashing success, however, its creation will have been more than justified.