The News: Jelly, which originally debuted back in 2013, has relaunched with a similar but slightly different mission statement. Originally a visual-based Q&A network that let you ask what this thing you just took a picture of was, it’s now more of a general human-powered search engine. So the idea is that people can go in, ask a question that’s bothering them and then sit back and wait for an answer instead of sitting there obsessing about how you could reword that Google search.
PNConnect Insight: There’s been lots of tut-tutting about this, with various headlines describing Jelly as the app no one wanted to begin with and so on. That’s not super-fair to the app, though, especially as it relaunches with a variation on its original mission. It is intriguing, the idea that it’s search for the people who don’t want to waste time on search since I, along with countless others, have sat there hunched over a search box wondering what the hell I’m doing wrong. So introducing a human element into that could be very useful, allowing me and others to ask our question, go about our day and then wait for responses that aren’t dependent on AI to come in.
The caveat, of course, is that the people need to be there and that’s the big looming question mark. Realistically, there’s nothing that Jelly does that you can’t already do on Facebook or Twitter. Anyone can go there and ask a question (sometimes tagged #lazyweb) and wait for a response from their network. The key advantage of Jelly, then, is that you go outside of your own network. So instead of being limited by who you do or don’t already know, it truly seeks to tap into the wisdom of the larger crowd. If there’s a differentiator, it’s that. But it relies on there being enough people there to get quality answers. If it can’t achieve something even greater than critical mass, where the volume of smart people chiming in is expansive enough to truly be greater than machine-driven results, then Jelly will continue to struggle.