One of my favorite podcasts is NPR‘s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Wait Wait is a weekly new’s quiz show, based out of Chicago, that invites various guests to answer a series of satirical questions.
This past week, Ev Williams of Twitter was invited onto the show as a guest, and he echoed a comment I happened to make recently when talking to a friend about wine apps for mobile. People often complain about the mundane tweets that happen on twitter, with a occasional traffic update or news item. What’s interesting is that this worked to train the users to use twitter to communicate. If you had built an app for these “traffic updates”, people wouldn’t use it since it was not part of the way they communicated. They’d forget it’s there and therefore, not tell everyone what’s happening on the freeway.
From the Show: It turns out it has a lot of different facets, because while there’s many people doing stupid narcissistic things, that gets you to use it(twitter) on a regular basis and it gets you familiar with it. But then when you see an accident, you’re trained to tweet that you’ve just seen an accident, and suddenly that’s a useful piece of information. Whereas, if we told you that this was a program only for reporting accidents, you’d never think of it. – Ev Williams
When my friend asked, “what is the best wine app”, my response was, bluntly, that they all sucked.
I might want to clarify and say that they all suck for 99% of the population of wine drinkers. The current wine apps are all what I call “destination apps”, meaning you need to make them your destination for information you need. The truth is that we need apps that are not destinations, but rather locations were we hang out. I mentioned to him that if you want to make a wine app that works, try making a “life app” that includes wine.
For me it comes down to a few apps that already exist. Evernote: a place where I share all my wine notes and store information that I find online. I use it everyday and would feel as though I was missing an arm if I didn’t have it at the ready. It’s a tool that I use for organizing my life, and wine is one aspect of my life (shocking I know, I do enjoy other things too!). Then you have the other arm of social: Twitter, Facebook and to a growing extent Google+, all of which are places where I share my life with friends and family. Since wine is a social lubricant, it only goes to show how natural it is to talk about the various wines I’m enjoying.
I don’t want to get too detailed, but I do want to offer up a challenge to wine app creators. What we need is a lifestyle app that builds wine into its core, or an app that allows for conversations, categorizations, or amplifications of things other than wine. Do this and you’ll have an app that normal folk can relate to. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for specialist apps, each discipline needs these, but they are not going to grow an audience much bigger than the niche they are built for.
Read the full transcript of Ev Williams on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me