CompetitiveAnalysis-CalvinLin

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Contents

Reinstatement of Idea

Our group proposed an application that would allow for users to easily and conveniently record their thoughts on different beers while tasting them, as well as involve their friends with social features such as rate-this-round.

Group Brainstorm - 100 Proof

List of Competitors

Below is a list of iPhone applications that I found to have similar features:

  1. iBeers Lite
  2. Rate:Beer
  3. Tasting Notes
  4. iRate Beer
  5. RateBeer Beer Scores
  6. Beer & Wine
  7. Epicure
  8. Beer Pad
  9. My Beer
  10. Beer & Wine Log

Analysis

iBeers Lite

iBeers Lite is a reference application with a large database of beers that displays information about each drink. The app is targeted toward beer drinkers who are interested in having an encyclopedia of beers in their pocket – similar to ours but much more broad.

iBeers Lite offers a list of over 2700 beers to browse through and view basic information such as country of origin and who the brewer is. The app also allows users to rate each drink on a scale of 1-5 and view ratings by other users, but does not allow for other thoughts or details to be added. Our idea does not aim to serve as a reference book, but instead allow users to input detailed and custom information on drinks they care about. iBeers has a fixed, non-customizable database of drinks and lacks social features or ways to share data with friends.

Based on reviews, users complained about iBeer having incomplete and incorrect data, and a database in need of updating. Complaints about the search functionality were made as well. We plan on allowing users to fill in the information they care about themselves, providing multiple ways to browse drinks, and making sure our app works smoothly without hiccups.

Demo on YouTube: Link

Rate:Beer

Rate:Beer is an application that acts as a beer database and as a tasting notepad at the same time. The developers targeted both casual beer drinkers and enthusiasts with this app. This is similar to ours in that it has functionality for those who pay attention to the little details of a drink, but different since the app is also aimed at those who don’t.

The app offers a list of over 2400 beers to browse through, view basic information, and rate. In addition to an overall rating, users can rate based on appearance, aroma, flavor, and more on a scale of 1-5. Ratings can then be shared with friends and the world. Although there is a fixed list, users can add custom drinks to the database. This is similar to our idea, but we plan on having deeper customization and suggestion features.

Users appreciate being able to add custom drinks and create more in-depth reviews, but many want more functionality. The app poses as a database first and a review app second; you can’t even view a list of the drinks you’ve reviewed/tasted. Comments were made on how many steps it took to do simple tasks. Users also complained about the app simply being a list of beers. We plan on focusing on customizable drink reviews and discovering new drinks – and making it quick and easy to do so.

Screenshot showing review categories: Link

Tasting Notes

Tasting Notes is a notepad application that lets users create tasting lists and track what they have tried. The app targets a very broad range of people – basically anyone who wants to log their thoughts on practically anything. This includes beer drinkers, but the functionality is not exclusive to any one interest.

Custom lists can be created for anything the user wants – from beer to cigars. Within each list, users create notes where there are fields for adding information such as name, price, and other custom details about the item. The app acts more as a notepad by allowing users to write down their thoughts, and rating is limited to an overall score from 1-100. Our idea will focus on beers and have similar functionality, but we will aim to go beyond basic notepad functionality.

The app has very flexible usage due to its customizability and lack of a particular user group. However, users wanted to be able to share data with friends more easily, which we will incorporate with social features. There is also no other way to view each list of notes other than in chronological order. We plan on providing a variety of ways to view reviews based on certain categories of interest.

Video demo on developer site: Link

iRate Beer

iRate Beer is a simple beer rating app that includes a beer finder based on location. The app is useful for anyone wanting to keep track of their favorite beers and find bars nearby. It doesn’t specifically target people who know a lot about beer like our app does.

The app has a fixed database of beers and allows users to rate each one a scale of 1-5. When a user enters a rating, the page also shows how many people have rated this beer before and the average score. A short note/thought can be added as well, but nothing extensive. There is no way to share your reviews nor specify any other specific ratings or thoughts about the drink. There is also no way to add custom drinks to the list. A bonus feature called “Beer Me” shows places that sell beer closest to your current location.

Performing the app’s functionality and navigating the menus is easy to do thanks to the simplicity of the entire app. Users complained however that the interface looked “amateur”. Furthermore, because the app is narrow in features, there isn’t much to be confused by. Our app will aim for a professional look and feel, as well as provide an intuitive experience despite having more complex features.

RateBeer Beer Scores

RateBeer Beer Scores is another simple beer application that lets users look up particular beers of interest to view information and ratings. This app targets specific beer drinkers: those who are knowledgeable and experienced enough to know what to search for.

Instead of browsing through a large database, the app forces you to enter a beer or brewer name and then returns related results. On the results page, ratings out of 5 are displayed, which comes from user reviews on RateBeer.com. However, users cannot enter reviews or read detailed information from the app itself. Instead, a link is provided to a page on RateBeer.com. All that is shown is the rating, brewer, and % alcohol. We plan on making information much more accessible and enable custom input.

Although providing search is useful, there is no other way to view the database. Users also have to go to the owner’s website in order to see anything interesting and provide their own input. The app provides a very narrow experience with limited functionality. Our app will avoid having such narrow usage and flexibility.

Beer & Wine

Beer & Wine is a simplistic personal beer and wine review application. It targets beer and wine drinkers alike, but because of the design, it is more for people interested in keeping a list of both.

The app is very simple; it has a page for a wine list and a beer list. There is no included database and instead each page consists of the user’s own notes. A user creates an entry, enters the name and drink type, adds a rating out of 5, and enters any thoughts into a comment box. Searching within a list is provided, but there is no other way to view your lists other than in chronological order. Functionality is very defined for the user, as there is no customization across the entire app. Users cannot add custom fields nor sort the lists in any way.

Because the user experienced is clearly defined, the app is very easy to use. A user cannot get lost since there are only a couple different pages within the app. The app gets away with good usability because of its simplicity. However, browsing through data once the lists get long remains a problem.

Screenshot of review entry: Link

Epicure

Epicure is an easy way to store information on what foods, wines, and beers you have tried. The app is targeted for all food lovers who want to remember what and where they’ve eaten in the past. It is not specific to any particular group of people.

Within the app are three main pages: Food, Wine, and Beer. Much like other apps, the user creates entries for specific items, rates quality and price out of 5, and enters a description and other details. What makes this app unique and powerful is its search functionality. You can search on multiple predicates such as name, rating, price, and descriptive tags all at the same time. Also unique is grouping and viewing certain dishes within a restaurant. However, review capabilities are limited to an overall rating and a description box, and there are no ways to interact with other users. But within its scope of functionality, the app is very well done.

Like other food-rating apps, usability is straightforward since the functionality is easy to understand and the menus are easy to navigate. Data is well sorted based on category to avoid clutter. The search page is quite useful and powerful, allowing for quick access to data. Our app will build upon these strengths by adding more functionality and flexibility.

Screenshot of review page: Link Screenshot of search page: Link

Beer Pad

Beer Pad is another beer tasting notepad, very much similar to the apps above. It targets beer drinkers on a very general level and not those of a specific level of expertise.

Beer Pad is essentially the same as Beer & Wine but with more information. For each note, a drink can be rated out of 5 stars, a text field is provided for the user’s thoughts, and there are other detailed fields such as style, brewery, and pairings. Users can then search their notes based on these pre-defined fields or by keyword. However, customization is lacking as the user cannot add custom fields. There is no interaction between users and the app does not use any aggregate data from other app users.

Usability is brought down by several reported bugs in the interface and the app crashing from time to time. Users have requested greater customization and functionality, such as being able to sort their list beyond chronology, and making the rating system more flexible. When the list of drinks gets long, there is no way to sort them or divide them up into smaller lists. All these criticisms will be taken into account when designing our app.

My Beer

Like Beer Pad, My Beer allows users to maintain a single list of favorite beers and store some detailed information about each. The app is targeted toward slightly more knowledgeable beer drinkers due to the design decisions of the developer.

The interface allows the user to enter information on variety, price, country, and food pairings, along with a notes section for random thoughts. However, the first four force the user to pick a selection from a pre-defined list of options instead of allowing text entry. Rating a drink is limited to an overall score out of 5 stars. A plus is the drink list can be sorted by rating, color, and name.

Usability is limited to what the developers included since there are no customization capabilities. Users wanted to be able to put more information such as the brewery and to be able to sort by such fields. Usage of the app is drawn out on a single path, leaving little choice to the user. Our app will strive to provide diverse functionality and multiple ways to use the app instead of constricting the user to one usage path.

Beer & Wine Log

Beer & Wine Log is exactly what the name says: a log of beers and wines that a user has tried. Beer and wine drinkers who want to remember what they’ve drank and where they had it will find this app useful.

When users add a beer to their log, they must enter information on the name, brewery, style, and alcohol content. Unlike other apps, this app gives users the choice to enter custom names or select from a given list for each data field. Custom names are automatically added to the database upon entry, which is a nice touch. However, users cannot add custom notes and details on the drink – something our app will focus on. Furthermore, ratings are limited to a thumbs up, neutral, or thumbs down. A unique feature of the app is adding “tastings” - exact times and locations where a user had the drink.

I found the app to crash often, but other than that, usability is straightforward. Users are taken through a step by step process to add a beer. However, it is neither easy nor obvious to add new breweries or drink types. The app also lacks search functionality – a problem when one’s drink list gets long. Overall the app is simple to use, but lacks diverse functionality and customization.

Screenshot of beer listing: Link

Summary

After browsing through the existing competition, I found that many applications address the same problems as our original idea. Recording drinks and logging personal opinion is a very common feature, although to varying degrees of flexibility. Numerous apps contain information on beers from all over the world and others allow users to add custom drinks and details. Some apps are quite simple and even restrictive, but overall, the concept of keeping track of favorite beers has been well covered by the competition. There are plenty of beer reference/encyclopedia apps to choose from as well.

However, there were a couple patterns I noticed that we can build upon to avoid being another product review app and create unique functionality. First off, none of the applications incorporated any sort of social feature that would involve multiple people when reviewing a new drink. We could create social features that would have the user and his/her friends interact while using the application.

Secondly, existing applications don’t take advantage of aggregate user data and being connected to the internet. A unique feature we can add is drink suggestions based on a user’s preferences. We could match people with similar tastes and then suggest beers the user might like. We could even go further and offer location-based suggestions that narrow the scope to data submitted from a particular venue. Overall, making use of aggregate user data was not something I saw from existing applications.



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