Is Apple Gunning to Buy Pinterest Competitor The Fancy?

Business Insider reported this weekend that Apple is possibly angling to sink their hooks into The Fancy, a Pinterest-like site that focuses on tying image sharing to e-commerce. This would be a step for Apple into the world of web commerce outside their walled iTunes garden, and could mark a new direction for the company famous for the iPod and iPad. So just what is The Fancy and how useful would it be to the world’s largest tech company?

We’ve covered Fancy before, and lauded their department store shop layout, which has each The Fancy category serve “as store windows into the virtual shops inside”. We also analyzed their inclusion of referral credits for power users. This reward system allows Fancy users to make a little money by sharing an image that other people click to buy a product. This affiliate style empowerment of users creates an impressive network of eager sellers attempting to influence others with their good taste. It’s no wonder that Apple is looking hard at the network to determine how they can leverage it for their gain.

It’s difficult to say the service doesn’t stand on the shoulders of Pinterest and Tumblr, but if it does it is certainly reaching something both those sites have failed to grasp – commerce. Nearly every single image profile in Fancy has an “add to cart” button in big green beside the image, and the user experience design is done in such a way that it is clearly visible but not overly intrusive. The design, along with the aforementioned department store style category system, gives me that feeling I used to get as a kid with a pack of friends at a big shopping mall – there is so much here to buy, and I’m really excited to browse it all and share my favorites with my friends. The Fancy is like the most successful ventures of modern consumer culture by masquerading as an entertainment destination while hiding the pulsating heart of commerce beneath.

So what can Apple do with these guys? I imagine the millions of accounts with credit card information could be a useful segway into encroaching on Amazon’s turf. Maybe Apple wants to take their web presence and sales to a new level, and the Cook is planning to whip up a new branch of the Apple business.

It’s hard to say at this point, but we’ll be watching for any more news.

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