In January 2014 Twitter’s famous founder Biz Stone (@Biz) announced a new mobile App ‘Jelly’. Jelly was launched with relatively little information, seemingly making it the role of Jelly users to define exactly what it could do.
The initial reaction to Jelly was that it was just another Q&A crowdsourcing tool, but this doesn’t do it justice.
I would argue Jelly really is different, not just due to the requirement of visuals or the neat interface. I would argue it is one of a new breed of ‘crowd-defined’ Apps.
Historically, Apps have been launched to solve a unique problem. Yet Jelly didn’t solve a unique problem because there were already plenty of other tools with a similar crowd-sourced approach to answers. What Jelly did differently was to create a presence which automatically created a following of users who wanted to define it’s purpose.
So what is Jelly’s purpose? Well, a review of Jelly questions provides a fascinating insight into what the community believe it to be so far. I’ve grouped them as follows:
- The WTFs?: Typical questions ask why anybody needs the App they just downloaded and are currently using e.g. “What is Jelly for?”, “Isn’t this just Quora with pictures?”, “I’m bored, are you?” coupled with a picture of a Jelly related product
- The Dubbyas (W’s – Where, What and Who’s): Typical questions are one-off quizzes around a location, thing or person e.g. “Where is this?” with an abstract location picture, “What is this” with a picture of a blatantly obvious product, or “Who is this person?” coupled with a photo of the back of a random person’s head that no-one knows
- The ‘Choicers?‘: Typical question – “Which should I buy, product x or y?” or “What do you prefer, x or y?” coupled with a picture of the two or more options
- The ‘Rhetoricals: Typical question is usually something that attempts to make them sound incredibly smart by asking it. Usually they are coupled by a completely unassociated random photo
- The Etiquettes: Typical questions relate to the rules of Jelly, however they mainly provide answers. Usually including complaints about Jelly being used incorrectly (despite the fact there are no official rules of use)
- The ‘Jellies’: Typical question uses Jelly as an actual tool with a real question and an appropriate photo (currently these are in the minority)
There may be others too, but the point is Jelly hasn’t (so far) told any users what they should be doing. Which is where Biz Stone’s experience may be so important. Over the years Twitter has ultimately been defined by it’s users. I doubt anyone, even Twitter could have honestly expected it to be what it is today. So perhaps Jelly is beginning with a simple premise; to be a crowd-defined App. An App which is defined by it’s very lack of definition. Making the naming of ‘Jelly’ perfectly delicious.