Three months ago almost everyone wondered (or at least one nosy blogger did) what happens when three amazingly talented Microsoft employees leave to form their own startup company would do and could achieve. Of course I’m referring to the amazing trio – Hillel, Walter and Jenny at Jackson Fish Market. If you still think they’re selling fresh seafoods, please stop reading this blog immediately.
It wasn’t entirely clear, for me at least, what they were doing. For that cause, I’ve been straining my tiny brain cells trying to figure out exactly what they mean by “making software for consumers” – a simple concept on the surface yet unbelievably cryptic at the same time. If they wanted to make software for people, why didn’t they stay at Microsoft then? [Insert witty Steve Sinofsky joke]. Followed by more hints at “branded software experiences“. Did they just want to be a design studio? A consulting agency? It would have been hard to believe three successful Microsoft leads would do something so ‘average’.
But now their focus much clearer. Today, in fact only a few hours ago, they have launched their first Jackson Fish “Experience” – “They’re Beautiful!” – an interactive virtual flower gifting service that really lives up to the name. In fact, so real I actually thought for the first 10 minutes or so looking at the website they were selling real flowers, silly me. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover definitely applies here.
This was definitely a first-time experience for me with virtual flowers. A simple Google search for “virtual flowers” delivers an abundance of results, so I’m obviously under-educated in this field. I figured the top three results are probably the best the industry has to offer so I decided to check them out, and what horrible experiences they were.
In other words, I think I’m beginning to fall for the “branded software experiences” buzz too. Whatever magic is behind this wonderful application/service, it’s working. There’s definitely the Jenny Lam touch on the graphics here – everything is pixel perfect and drop dead gorgeous. When you ‘water’ your plants, a little angel comes and sprinkles H2O on your plants, you have to see it to believe it! Apparently plants even die if you don’t water them. They’ve even made it easy to ‘share’ your plants on your blog (right). I guess details like that puts the “experience” in software.
In terms of a business model “They’re Beautiful” fits right in with the truckloads of other Web 2.0 applications, “what money?”. Since there’s nothing more than little pixel flowers flying around it’s not so bad for them, but you have to wonder how they plan to make a buck. Nevertheless, free is good and I’m definitely going to use this service because of it. If you’re my friend, look forward to some flowers flying your way! If you’re not, then tough luck.
For what it’s worth, this is the sort of people Microsoft and Windows have lost. It’s a shame, but at the same time an exciting adventure for someone like myself, a Microsoft enthusiast. But all hope is not lost, I know the ‘new’ people who’s taking over shares similar levels of passion and enthusiasm for their work. We’ll just have to wait and see I guess. But I’m going to water my flowers for the time being.
Update: I just sent about 25 flowers to some people I know. Wow, I think I’m in love with this service. Only a few clicks, yet every single one of them was unique.