Qwiki turned heads last September when it won the top prize at TechCrunch Disrupt. The service pulls information from around the web to create multimedia presentations on over 3 million people, places and things, a sort of Wikipedia composed of miniature documentaries.
Last week the service launched its iPad app, and within a few days had broken into the top ten list. “We may just end up killing the website altogether,” said Qwiki co-founder Doug Imbruce, only half joking, during a visit to Betabeat’s offices on Friday.
Like the news reading app Pulse, which stopped by earlier in the week, Qwiki was in town to meet with New York’s blue chip publishers. “A lot of them are looking for more compelling ways to present their content on the tablet and we are looking for great ways to build out our database of topics,” said Imbruce. “Different forms of discovery are going to drive visitors in the future, way beyond Google’s ten blue links.”
Right now most of the entries on Qwiki feel like broad, zoomed out takes on big topics, so integration with major news publishers could add more rich and timely detail. Imbruce says the company is also considering ways to partner with less traditional publishers. “A real estate firm could publish their listings, and our stories on specific cities could start to integrate that data on price and location.”It would be interesting to see Qwiki put information like that to work building a deeper dive within a more generic entry like “Denver”.
The iPad app already asks users to share their location so it can provide a map featuring Qwikis on local landmarks and neighborhoods. “Qwiki wouldn’t have been created if I had not been living in New York,” says Imbruce. “I felt like we had to leave for the west coast to grow the company, but man, if Stanford would just hurry up and open that University here I could come home.”