It's iPhone day! Do you need one? Ask Hunch…

Welcome to June 19th, 2009, the day that may well be remembered for all time as ‘the day Apple released an iPhone that was only a little better than the last one, in order to let the other phone manufacturers catch up a little and make a longer fight of it’.  Or something.

Anyway, you may (like me) be thinking ‘I’m out of contract on my old phone.  Shall I get an iPhone 3GS?’

Well, via mashable, I’ve just come across something that may help you decide… it’s called Hunch, and it’s a new service that helps you make decisions.  It’s also co-founded by Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake.  She’s obviously very in to co-founding things.

The Hunch proposition is simple; “Hunch helps you make decisions, and gets smarter the more you use it”.

Let’s give it a whirl then…


OK, so after the first very obvious question, I’m thinking ‘wow, it’s just going to tell me what I want to hear…’.

But no, it takes this only as a first step, then starts questioning what I’ll use the device for (phone calls/Mobile internet etc), what sort of job I do and whether technology is important to it, whether I’m with a service provider that does the iPhone… Hunch is asking a lot of rational questions that, if I’d just done my usual impulse buy, I’d have bypassed.

It’s basically a decision tree, though it’s a decision tree is defined and refined by the people who use the site, rather than being fixed.  So it cleverly crowdsources the right questions to ask…

…and then, it reaches a decision for me…


OK then, I will…

Now, think about what Hunch now knows about me… sure, it knows I want an iPhone.  But it also knows the sort of job I do, what I use a mobile device for, whether or not I can afford an iPhone… it’s started to build up a picture of me through the data I’ve willingly given it.

And if I save my profile, and then ask more questions of it, it builds up a more robust picture of me… so will give me, on a personal level. better answers.

Meanwhile in the background, it’s collecting data about everyone who uses it… it will be able to use all of that information to cross-pollinate the ‘answers’ it gives people. 

So if other iPhone purchasers have been asking about gaming systems, and then I ask about whether I should buy an XBox 360 or PS3, it has some data to help steer decisions, as well ask asking me a whole set of new questions…


So far, according to Mashable, Hunch has over 30,000 users, and a database of 7 million questions.  I’d expect that to get a lot bigger a lot faster, too.

It’s another example of how the internet means companies need to think about ‘thousands not millions‘  (see the earlier post if you want a recap). 

If you want to talk to the people who might want an iPhone, or an XBox, or who want to know what film to see at the weekend or recipe to cook tonight with the aubergine they have left in their fridge… then places like Hunch could increasingly be where they turn first.