Is Pinterest in danger of being out-innovated?

pinterest targetFor all its inherent problems, Pinterest has managed to remain a hot commodity for the better part of this year. But that early and meteoric rise to the top may be leveling out: Facebook-connected Pinterest active users have decreased over the last month, and general interest appears to have died down.

Part of that can easily be attributed to early hype. How many of you signed up for a Pinterest account because you had to see what the craze behind all those pushed posts was? Probably more than a few. And then when you found the site underwhelming, you ditched it and never looked back. That’s what happens to insanely hyped services. It’s unsustainable, but if you’re a good enough service, you’ll easily survive it.

thefancyBut in this particular case, Pinterest has more important things to worry about – including very able competitors. Fancy has managed to create a very Pinterest-esque application while also introducing a working social e-commerce model. Since February, brands and retailers have been able to sign up with Fancy and choose from “fancied” products they’d like to sell.

So while it doesn’t have Pinterest’s user numbers, it is offering something that many of them have been begging for: a built-in way to turn clicks into cash. The site has fewer users, but they’re more active, and all the “social shopping meets Amazon” talk has turn into some impressive investments for Fancy from names like Marc Andreeseen and Ben Horowitz. The startup also boasts board members like Square and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.

That’s one pain point for Pinterest, which has struggled with establishing a commerce model. Another challenge is analytics and tracking tools. Many, many, many power users of the application desperately want a way to explicitly track how much traffic the site is generating for them. Pinterest hasn’t introduced its own application to do this – and so others have. Newly launched Pinerly is an analytics dashboard for brands to understand and control their Pinterest activity. To say it was welcomed with open arms is putting it lightly: Pinerly accumulated 36,000 sign ups over the first week it was launched.

pinerlyPinerly isn’t alone, either. Another recently launched tool from iGoDigital is looking to capitalize on this hole in the Pinterest platform. “With more than 10 million registered users, retailers are seeing Pinterest as a way to inspire shoppers and drive traffic, but many brands have been unable to track, monitor, or understand how Pinterest activity affects their bottom lines,” iGoDigital President Eric Tobias said in the product’s press release. “The Pinterest Tracking tool will begin to give them this insight.” There’s also a new WordPress integrated Pinterest manager called WP Pinner that’s currently in beta. 

Pinterest is getting scooped in two very important areas: E-commerce and marketing analytics. It’s also chosen not to make its API public yet, stopping it from becoming a developer’s wonderland and trying to harness that creativity for its own benefits. However, there are some obvious caveats to this and Pinterest’s caution is understandable. But perhaps the site’s gotten a little too hesitant and comfortable, and third parties and copycat models are threatening to steal its thunder. 

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