What is it? It's a visual bookmarking, text snipping, whole web page archiving, public/private link saving and sharing service with Dropbox integration, a (submitted) iPhone app and a developer platform for integrating Gimme Bar features into other applications. It's pretty remarkable - but is it good enough? The web is full of social bookmarking apps, a lot of people love social bookmarking apps - but not enough of them seem to love it for startups like this to thrive.
The Long Line of Contenders
Delicious beat a thousand social bookmarking apps to become the king, until it languished inside Yahoo and was drowned in misunderstanding by the YouTube co-founders that bought it this year. StumbleUpon added an element of mystery and drove huge traffic to web publishers. Pinterest looks like it's cornering a part of the women's market in fashion and craft bookmarking.
But nobody's really won over hordes of everyday people to their link saving service, despite countless attempts. Maybe most people don't really want to save links forever. Maybe the tools have been too unfriendly for non-geeks to use. Those are the dominant theories, anyway.
New services like this launch almost every day, albeit generally with a twist.
Ramy Adee, a key engineer in the creation of Microsoft-acquired $800 million voice platform TellMe recently raised high profile venture capital to build a social bookmarking app called Snip.it. That app lets users save and share links with a special emphasis on their own short editorial comments on the links they share. Adee believes that the future of news consumption lies in social curation with crowdsourced and friend-based commentary and context.
I've been using a service called Pearltrees lately to save my links. Its web interface is Flash and that's awful but on an iPad it's a dream come true. It's a swirling sea of interlinked glassy spheres containing links to articles from around the web. Users can pluck each others' pearls and put them into trees of their own, subscribing to updates and reading annotations. It's great - but it will be better when there is an iPhone version and search on the iPad. Pearltrees has convinced me that a good social bookmarking app needs to have a compelling reading and sorting experience on the iPad, because that's where I do most of my casual and catch-up reading.
I'm pretty satisfied with Pearltrees right now, but Gimme Bar looks strong as well.
As a disclosure, I should mention that I own a small amount of equity in a related service called Iterasi, which archives links for enterprise customers and was a consulting client several years ago.
Can Features Win an App Battle?
All those other social bookmarking apps are cool, but some of Gimme Bar's new features could well become must-have offerings for any social bookmarking app.
The ability to save all your links up into a cloud storage service that you pay for yourself, in this case Dropbox, is terrific. It's not a back-up option for power users, or an account deletion option if you decide you don't like Gimme - it's just part and parcel of the service. That's the kind of data portability that honestly every app ought to support.
Giving users the option of saving entire pages on the web as a snap shot image is great. For truly important archives, you don't want to suffer from link rot. That the archive is an image and not live HTML seems like a nod towards respect for the original publisher, though.
There are little User Experience elements that people may like a lot about Gimme, too. For example, when you find a page or a snippet of text or an image you want to save, you can drag and drop that down to a tray at the bottom of the page separated into either public or private collections. (That's the Gimme Bar.) When you start typing in a description of the item, if you choose to do so, you don't have to save the description text when you're done - you just click out of the pop-up saving box and all your data entered is saved automatically. That's the way things ought to work.
Finally, Gimme has an API at launch. It clearly aims to build a marketplace of 3rd party applications that read and write from the web using its archiving and sharing technology and its saved content. Give me an integration that grabs all my favorited Tweets (usually on my mobile Twitter client), archives a snapshot of them in Gimme and then pushes them over to a corresponding account in Pearltrees so I can read and organize them with multi-touch on my iPad. Please! That's just a fantasy but this Gimme Bar to Tumblr integration is real.
Those are just the features rolled out so far, on this the first day of Five Days of Gimme Bar. What will be unveiled (or perhaps just highlighted) over the rest of the week? We'll have to wait and see.
A lot of people will no doubt love this service, many already do. But will enough people love it for the service to thrive? Gimme has already hired one sales person, according to the company's LinkedIn page. Launching with monetization in mind from the start is smart. It's not clear whether it's the application platform, private bookmarking, or perhaps corporate use and archiving that will be monetized.
In the meantime, if social bookmarking, link and media saving and sharing is ever going to catch on - the feature rich experience being built over at Gimme Bar seems like as strong a contender as I've seen yet. Hopefully all kinds of other applications will be built on top of and connected to it and hopefully its Dropbox integration will make all kinds of people feel safe and secure using it for saving important content.
If Gimme Bar doesn't work, then I'm not sure what is going to win the hearts of a large number of social bookmarking service users.