He noted that it’s not intuitive to find Spark on the Amazon app, suggesting that the company is not pushing it hard -- at least not yet.
To use it, go to the “programs and features” section on the app’s menu bar. The tool will first ask you to select at least five interests. Once you do, you’ll see an Instagram-like feed of photo posts bearing shopping-bag icons that enumerate how many pictured items -- plus related products -- you can buy on Amazon.
A cursory glance on Wednesday showed polished-looking photos of travel scenes, cosmetics and kitchen gadgets for the interests “travel,” ″food” and “beauty & grooming.” A user named Kassandra posted a stylized photo of a hand holding a bottle of bright red nail polish. Clicking on the photo highlights yellow dots on the purchasable items — and one tap will take you to an Amazon product page. In this case, the Smith & Cult nail polish was available for $18.
Spark has drawn comparisons to both Pinterest and Instagram, but it’s unclear if it will be a threat to either. Tech companies like Amazon, however, appear increasingly fond of cloning popular apps from fast-growing startups. Facebook, for instance, has been trying to copy Snapchat one way or another since it failed to buy the youth-oriented network several years ago. Many of those efforts failed, though a Snapchat-like feature on Instagram, called Stories, has proven popular.
Hetu said it’s too soon to say whether Spark will be a threat to Pinterest. But if it is, over the long term, it will be Amazon’s direct connection to retail that would make the difference. Pinterest, a seven-year-old service now valued at more than $12 billion, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Representatives for Amazon did not immediately respond to messages for comment on Wednesday afternoon.