Pinterest goes all-in with mobile, releasing iPad and iPhone apps

Looking to get in on the booming mobile market, social network Pinterest has unveiled mobile apps for its pinboard service.

Pinterest announced Tuesday new apps for Apple's iPad and it also refreshed its app for Apple's iPhone. A new app is also available for Android-based smartphones.

The new apps are available for download at Apps.Pinterest.com.

The move comes less than a week after Pinterest shed its invitation-only policy and opened its registration to anyone. Both efforts should help Pinterest increase its user base, which already shows strong numbers.

Earlier this week, online traffic tracker Experian Hitwise reported that last month Pinterest was the third most popular social network. The pinboard site garnered 119 million visits, compared to 250 million at Twitter and 7.5 billion at Facebook.

"It may sound funny, but our goal has never been to keep you online," the company posted on its blog. "Instead, we want to inspire you to go offline and do things that you love. Today, we're making it easier to take your inspirations with you by providing new apps for Android, iPad and iPhone."

Cashing in on the burgeoning mobile market is important to any social network. Facebook, for example, has taken hits from industry and financial analysts for not yet having a way to monetize its quickly growing mobile user base. In documentation filed with the U.S. Securities an Exchange Commission prior to Facebook's initial public offering earlier this year, Facebook's lack of a mobile plan was categorized as a "risk factor" for investors.

However, this isn't a problem for Facebook alone. It's the same for all social networks.

With mobile apps, Pinterest is taking the first steps not only to reach out to potential mobile users, but also to eventually generate revenue.

The company noted that its Android app is custom-designed for both phones and tablets.

For iPhone owners, the redesigned app features a 2-column layout that lets users see more pins.

iPad owners may have been given the best Pinterest experience with the new and redesigned apps, the company said.

"The [iPad] app offers users new ways to engage with pins, whether swiping the screen to resume browsing after viewing a board, or using the embedded browser to see what others are pinning from their favorite sites," the company wrote.

Pinterest is like an online, shareable scrapbook. The site is a collection of collections, which offers a look into the worlds of food, athletics, fashion, and travel. The site is set up so users can create pages of interest by pulling in images from around the Web. If a user spots an image of, for example, an interesting hairstyle, piece of pottery or culinary dish, she can use a plug-in to grab it and "pin" it to her virtual board.

People who follow that user can see her pinboards, repin their favorite images, and comment on them.

[Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudinor subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.]

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