Amazon just launched its own version of Instagram, called Spark. It's an entirely new feature to help people discover products.
Amazon Spark encourages its users to post photographs of products they love. Other people can comment on posts and give "smiles," which is Amazon's own version of "like" or "favorite."
Amazon Launches Spark
Amazon has been testing Spark for a few months before launching it for U.S. users publicly on Tuesday, July 18. For now, the app is only available for iOS users who are also Prime members. The Washington Post says an Android version is on the cards.
The goal with Spark, it looks like, is to give a social platform to prospective customers who intend to buy things. It also helps that Spark has an inherent curative element, which can lay out products glamorously in a nice interface, instead of forcing the user to comb through dozens upon dozens of Amazon product listings.
Under this description, Amazon Spark becomes somewhat of a Pinterest or Instagram competitor, although it appears the app's inherent focus on retail might truncate its chances of becoming a globally used social media tool. That being said, it's easy to imagine that a number of people would still flock to a service like this, especially if it features a streamlined feed users can scroll through easily.
To try out Amazon Spark for yourself, you first need to download the Amazon mobile app, since the service doesn't have a desktop version as of this time. Spark is hidden under the "Programs and Features" option in the menu. You'll be asked to select at least five topics or areas of discussion you're interested in. Using this, Amazon Spark will generate a custom feed that includes products or items related to your interests.
Once the initial setup is complete, Spark will display lots of photographs, and sometimes even product reviews to go along with them. When a photo features a product available for purchase on Amazon, there'll be a shopping bag icon indicating how many items featured in the photo is available on the site.
Is Amazon Trying To Revolutionize The Way We Read Product Reviews?
TechCrunch notes a pretty interesting point of view — that Amazon sees Spark as kind of an evolution of product reviews, which, by the looks of it, sounds just about right. With Spark, users don't have to scour through stacks of reviews, nor do they have to search for the product — it may just appear right inside their feed all of a sudden complete with user reviews.
Right now, only users Amazon calls "Enthusiasts" can post on Spark, while others will only be able to browse the feed. Amazon also lends Enthusiasts a badge, which appears when they post something.
Online Shopping As A Social Experience
A tool such as Amazon Spark makes the company's goal clear as day: making shopping a social experience, specifically online shopping. Online reviews are most often met with doubtful customers worrying if what they're reading is real. Amazon Spark makes browsing through testimonials a tad bit legitimate.
Where this app could go is anyone's guess at this moment, but if it plays its card right, Amazon might just revolutionize the way word-of-mouth shopping works with Spark.