The End of a Foodie Mobile Era

An era comes to end today. Post Google acquisition, Zagat is discontinuing their iPhone and iPad apps. This makes me feel nostalgic. 

In 2008 I inherited a 2 star iPhone app. It was Zagat for iPhone. 

I didn’t have the luxury of scrapping the app so I listened to customers, tried novel approaches and redid the app piece by piece. The app became the #1 selling travel app (most days) and a 4.5 star app for the next 2 and a half years. It was the first to integrate Foursquare and Foodspotting. It drove reviews written right as someone was dining. The iPad app was a launch app with a map-centric design later cloned by everyone else in the space (Yelp, OpenTable, etc). 

After I left, not much happened with the suite of apps. I’m sure it had a lot to do with the complexities of an acquisition; a lot of talented people were at Zagat and their development partners. I would get messages from users asking what was going on but I had no clue. There was one update that reversed a key part of the UX and negative reviews started coming in. And then no updates. I couldn’t even open the iPad app for months without it crashing. Zagat went free and the iOS apps curiously stayed in market at full price.   

This morning Zagat sent a push notification indicating the discontinuation of the apps. This is a meaningful event. The very thing that showed Google that Zagat was viable in a modern Post-PC world is no more. Did you really think Google bought them because they wanted to print restaurant books?

Google hints at new apps, which is a strange thing considering they opted to not transition a large audience of paid Zagat mobile loyalists. It’s also curious because they 1. have the Google+ Local app directly integrated with Zagat and 2. have direct integration of Zagat into Google Maps on Android and likely in the new iOS Google Maps. Do they need a third Zagat mobile source, competing with Google+ Local? 

Things have changed, that’s for sure. A different 4.5 star app fuels my days and I’m lucky and thrilled it has the attention of the likes of Pepsi and Wall Street. It’ll be nice to not get “what the heck happened to your old app” questions. I will miss picking “My friends have a trust fund” when getting recommendations on where to eat out when my buddies are buying.

So it’s ”Check, please" for apps that brought the earliest forms of actually mobile reviews, augmented reality, and tablet app design. Today, the app will give me a great place to get dinner… perhaps for the last time.

  1. ryenyc posted this
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