CompetitiveAnalysis-NathanielBaldwin

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Contents

Restatement of the group's idea

The idea my group picked from our group brainstorm was a beer-rating app; it would provide a quick and easy (but robust) interface for people to keep track of their feelings on beers as they tried them - including a social mode where groups of people could "rate that round" and come up with beer opinions as a group.

List of related applications

These are some other applications around that attempt to provide some of the functionality we proposed.


Analysis

Rate:Beer

Rate:Beer's target user group is, unsurprisingly, the same as ours: people who enjoy drinking beer. It offers the ability to note an overall rating as well as rating five more beer-specific aspects on a scale of 1-5. The user can also type in notes about the beer. It supposedly has some ability to share information with others, though it's a bit unclear how or in what fashion. Our app will provide the ability to include other important information about beers, the ability to non-destructively re-rate beers, and more granulated control over the ratings scale. On a usability front, Rate:Beer has a somewhat confusing and cluttered interface, and also has different modes, both things that we will attempt to avoid.

Tasting Notes

Tasting notes has a broader target user group - roughly, "people who would like to rate consumables". It offers the ability to give an overall impression of a beer (or wine, or coffee, or cigar...) on a 1-100 scale, and note things about the beer like price, location found, etc. Because its user group is so broad, the app is extremely customizable - I would say to a fault. The app is set up with some built-in "templates" for a few types of food/drink, and lets you add others, and add aspects to those templates. It comes off as utilitarian (in a very boring way) and overly complex.

RateBeer Mobile

RateBeer Mobile targets beer drinkers. It is little more than a rudimentary interface to the ratebeer.com website - an account on the website is required, and the app attempts (and often fails, in my experience) to connect to the website to do things. It allows you to search for a beer, or add a beer rating, both overall and with a few beer-specific attributes. That's it. The UI looks like it was thrown together in about ten minutes, and the app offers almost comically paltry functionality.

iRate Beer

iRate Beer also targets beer drinkers. It offers the ability to rate a beer on a scale from 1-5, type a note on a beer, and view aggregate rating data as supplied by other users. It also allows you to search a list of locations that serve beer - but the locations and the beers themselves are not linked in any way - an option we feel it's important to offer. The user interface is text-driven and ugly, and offers no "photo" option. It's also a bit confusing - why is there a "brainwash" tab at the bottom? (Brainwash is the company that makes the app, but it's strange to have one of the four tabs on the main screen taken up by information about the app's creator).

My Beer

MyBeer targets beer drinkers, though it is clearly a copy/paste job from a similar wine-related app; the copy states that "You can add the following information to your favorite wines". It allows a 1-5 overall rating for a beer, as well as oddly separated options for "color" and "variety" (the latter makes the former fairly unneccessary, and it's a strange pick to begin with). It does allow notation of price and other comments, but not location or amount (different beers are often served in different quantities). It also has a "best with" section for food pairings - again, something more closely associated with wine. It doesn't have any beer-specific ratings. It does have a clean, simple UI (though it is a very simple app), with some nice graphical additions (no photo option, unfortunately - just the generic ones they provide).

Beer & Wine

Beer & Wine targets drinkers of both beer and wine. It allows a beer (or wine) to be entered, rated on a 1-5 scale, and have comments typed in about it. It has no beer OR wine-specific functionality; the only change when switching between the "beer" and "wine" tabs is the background color. It also has no built-in information; everything must be entered manually. Like "My Beer", the interface is clean and simple - but this app is inherently simple, so that isn't much of a challenge. We aim to offer many more features than this, while retaining its simplicity.

Beer Master

Beer Master targets beer drinkers. It's one of the better apps in this comparison, though probably not enough to justify being 5x more expensive than most of the offerings. It offers the ability to rate beers and enter information about them, though the specifics are unfortunately not present in screenshots or reviews. It also allows photos to be taken. It offers a seemingly-redundant ability to "star" favorite beers, in addition to giving an overall rating; this seems unnecessary when combined with its ability to sort by rating. It allows for multiple "tastings" for single beers, which is nice; it's good to have the non-destructive ability to revisit beers. It does allow sharing with other users, but no immediately social aspects. One nice UI touch is the instantly-understandable "glass fullness" icon to represent a beer's rating.

Beer & Wine Log

Another app that targets both beer and wine drinkers, but without any specific focus on the individual aspects of either. This app doesn't even allow for much of a rating - you get thumbs up, down, and sideways. It does, though, allow you to tie beer to a location, and add multiple tastings and photos. A neat, sort of "fun" touch is that it presents you with a world map that you can use to visually see the origins of the beers you've been tasting. The UI seems fairly straightforward, though the individual beer pages have both an "edit" button and an "add" button - it's unclear why editing a beer wouldn't contain the ability to add a tasting.

Beer Snap

Beer Snap joins My Beer as an incredibly simplistic app targeted at beer drinkers, by only by name. It also mirror's My Beer's copy/paste status - the first *word* of the description of the app refers to it as "WineSnap" There's essentially nothing distinctively beer-related about what little information can be entered (by hand) into this simplest of apps. The UI is, again, barely worth discussing, as there's so little to interface with.

Epicure

Epicure is targeted broadly at people wishing to store information about food and drink in general. It allows both an overall and price rating on a 1-5 scale, hand-typed notes, and, importantly, tags. Tags are an important feature that we intend to implement: because beer tasting is so inherently subjective and person-specific, it's important to allow users to arrange beers in multiple ways that make sense to them, without being complex. Unfortunately, as this is such a broadly-focused app, there is little beer-specific in its functionality. The UI looks clean, intuitive, and polished, utilizing various standard iPhone interface elements in easily-understandable, normal ways.


Summary

Feature Matrix
App Name Basic Rating Beer-Specific Ratings Additional Notes Location Where Had Price Info Share/Compare Add Photo Tag-Based Sort
Rate:Beer X X X X
Tasting Notes X X X X X
RateBeer Mobile X X X X
iRate Beer X X X
My Beer X X X
Beer & Wine X X
Beer Master X X X X
Beer & Wine Log X X X
Beer Snap X X X X
Epicure X X X X

While a number of these apps were incredibly slapdash, this was nonetheless a useful exercise, both in terms of finding clever ideas (like tags), and in terms of seeing what wasn't out there. Hearteningly, one thing I did not find in my search was any clearly "social" functionality, aimed at people out drinking with friends. This feature, combined with a stronger focus on what's important to beer drinkers specifically (as opposed to tasters in general) will be the main distinguishing features of our proposed application. Some well-covered aspects of the apps I enumerated still have room for improvement; for example, a rating scale of 1-5 is unnecessarily simplistic, when a simple slider bar that displays a value when being dragged can offer much finer rating ability. This sort of attention to quality will also set our app apart.



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