Urbanspoon is one of the success stories of the iPhone appstore phenomenon. The self-funded three man start-up began as a web based, crowd sourced guide to dinning out in major metropolitan areas in the US and Canada. Urbanspoon launched a location aware iPhone app shortly after Apple opened the platform to third party developers in 2008. The app quickly became one of the 10 most downloaded apps on iTunes. Then Urbanspoon really hit it big after Apple featured it in a TV commercial. In a nice exit for the founders, Urbanspoon was acquired last year by IAC for an unknown price that is generally believed to be several million dollars.
After picking a city, the site lets you search for a restaurant by name or keywords or browse by neighborhood and/or cuisine. Listings feature a percentage ranking based on the number of “Like” votes by users and generally include address, with link to a Google mobile map, phone number, approximate price range, critic reviews from IAC owned CitySearch, blogs and local newspaper critics plus user reviews. Mobile usability could be better, though. Phone numbers are not click to call and their is no information on what days and hours each establishment is open.
Urbanspoon’s chief rival is Yelp (Yelp mobile review). Yelp seems to have slightly more restaurant listings and many more user reviews. But I think Urbanspoon’s inclusion of critic reviews, which I tend to trust more than user’s, makes the two services approximately equal in usefulness for finding a good place to eat. Yelp wins big on usability though by providing both click to call numbers and open hours listings.
Ratings: Content Usability
Ready.mobi Score: 3 “Fair”
Mobile Link: www.urbanspoon.com/m/