@JeffMarshall and I were commiserating via Twitter this morning about "digital velvet ropes" as he put it -- the invite-only beta test that has become all the rage for new products and platforms. Of course, this was on the heels of my review of Hunch, which followed that protocol. I quipped that there needs to be some sort of digital members-only jacket for people to dress their avatar in or something.
Truth is, I kind of like the invite-only model for new launches. Not so much for trying to make it feel exclusive but to set the tone that this is a new product that's not ready for primetime. Juxtapose the launch of Hunch to the launch of Cuil. Splashed across the front page of the WSJ and hailed as the ultimate Google-killer what with it's massive index, privacy controls, and thumbnails (really? the USP is your thumbnails?), Cuil turned out to be too buggy at launch and immediately branded a FAIL. For me, like many others, Cuil was a classic case of try-it-once-and-never-again.
On the other hand, the promise of Hunch lies squarely with prolonged usage -- it will get smarter over time as more people use it and its algorithm has a chance to learn. So, rather then do the full media blitz at launch, Hunch went sort of stealth with a mere blog post from its founder setting off the Twittosphere.
If you haven't already signed up for your "invite" to Hunch, I suggest you do so now. While the wait was only 24 hours for me, I have a hunch it's going to get more popular. (Sorry, I promise not to use that pun with every Hunch-related blog post going forward!)
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9 months ago