Peach – what is it and should publishers care?

Someone clearly wasn’t listening as since then we have seen the emergence of Snapchat, Whatsapp and Instagram as well as junior players like Ello.

And now there’s a new social network bidding for space on your iPhone. Step forward Peach which was launched to much fanfare in the early part of January.

Peach ()

For a few days  in January Peach was the hottest thing online, with its champions heralding it as a genuine innovation in social networking that was sure to capture the the imagination of connected millennials.

But, like Meerkat, and hundreds of others apps before it, the backlash was brutal with Boy Genius reporting that its downloads were dwindling to nothing just days after launch.

What then is Peach, and does the publishing industry need to care about it?

Firstly Peach has a pretty impressive pedigree. It is not the work of a couple of teenage geeks, rather its founder is Dom Hoffman, who has already launched a hugely successful social network in Vine.

Short cuts and images

Not surprisingly given the visual nature of Vine, Peach is all about imaging. In some ways it works quite like Twitter in that its users create posts which can then be seen by their followers. But what makes it different are a feature called ‘Magic Words’ and it’s very smart use of GIFs.

‘Magic Words’ are essentially short cuts. If you type ‘here,’ Peach adds your current location, while typing ‘song’ posts a link to the track that you are listening to. The list of ‘Magic Words’ and what they create, is here.

Also quite impressive is the extensive use of GIFs on the platform. So, for example, if  a user types in GIF they get access to thousands of animated soundless clips.

Ultimately Peach is simple, innovative and potentially quite a lot of fun. Though conversely it could be argued that it isn’t really offering a lot that users can’t find on other social networks. It is just the skin and the trappings that are a little different.

At the moment it is iOS only – the Android app is apparently on its way.

The key issue for Peach, like any new app of its ilk, is momentum. It needs a lot of people using the app to create a community which will then attract their friends and virally spread its use.

Inevitably after the first few days the download figures dropped significantly. It is however interesting to note that the app has continued to gain press, which focuses not just on its original concept, but also the way it has added new features like this cute and clever game.

Experiments from publishers

So should publishers have Peach on their radar? At the moment the jury is out, but that hasn’t stopped a group of media companies and brands from grabbing handles and posting content. This is arguably driven by the fear of missing out on owning usernames than anything else. The Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post, Popular Science, Mic and Vice’s fashion site, i-D have all added accounts. Though almost all are experimental in nature.

In the short term Peach could develop into a receptacle for promoting content in the way that Twitter, and especially Facebook is. If the GIF usage on the site becomes its key focus then we may see publishers harnessing GIFs to highlight their content in creative way, not something that many media companies have done successful so far. It could also develop as a useful place to post video content too.

Quite whether this happens depends on the growth of the platform. Personally I think the naysayers who have written Peach off after a month are premature in their predictions. Contrary to the thoughts of Roger McNamee back in 2013 people aren’t coy about joining social networks if they prove to be useful and popular. Publishers may not have heard the last of Peach.

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