Are Wine Apps a Dead and Dying Breed?



Paul Mabray (owner of Vintank) writes in Palate Press:

Why are wine iPhone and Android apps not succeeding when other niche apps like Foodspotting are doing so well?

Over the last year and a half we have seen the most tragic case of inertia for wine apps, with many going out of business and most of the stars stagnating and wasting screen space on our phones. We watched as apps shot into the scene (Crushd) only to quickly burn out. We have seen apps that gained the attention of mainstream wineries (Blush) but never answer requests from a few major wineries to do something to accept revenue.


Too Niche
Wine itself is very-much still in the minority. When you look at the people who drink wine vs. talk about wine, you drill down to approximately 10 million social wine customers. Of that group only 2 million journal about wine, and most do so with pictures. We estimate that in the U.S. market there are only about 250,000 über-oenophiles who write detailed tasting notes.


They are not solving any real customer problems
Most of the apps are solving a perceived problem. Let’s not forget that wine is a luxury product and interacting with wine is a luxury allocation of our personal time. Very few wine apps solve a real problem or need. Some of the key WANTS are remembering the wine we like, helping us find new wines, helping us pair wine with food, helping us while we travel to wine regions, helping us learn about wine. There is only one real pain point in the consumer experience and it is often when a consumer is in a white tablecloth restaurant and staring at wines they don’t understand.


The Wine Industry Doesn’t Invest in Digital
Even if an app did a great job with a compelling business model they are almost doomed if they depend on wineries, retailers, or wholesalers to spend money on their platform. In wine history there have been extremely limited successes in profitable wine tech companies even outside the mobile space. Those who have succeeded have taken years to even break even and only two software companies in history have over 10% market share (one because they have a virtual monopoly, the other because they give away their software for free). The sad fact is that the wine industry would rather spend money hosting an expensive wine maker dinner than investing in the digital world we live in.

Click here for the full article.

My Thoughts…

The above content is heavily abridged, so make sure you click through to the main article if you’re a nerd (like me) for this kind of stuff, or if you wish to know a little more about the “current state” on wine phone apps.

This is no-doubt an excellent post by Paul Mabray, but “My Thoughts” could go on for pages and so I’m going to try (for your sake) to keep this as brief as possible.

On a monthly basis I receive numerous PR requests to “….check-out the latest and greatest wine app and advocate it to my following.
Maybe I’m in the minority on this (NB: But I don’t think I am), but what’s in it for me to do that? So I can give free publicity to a bunch of tech-nerds that couldn’t give two sh*ts about wine and are just trying to capitalize on this (as yet) untapped market, so they can be the “Zuckerberg” of the wine industry? No thanks.

To me the “niche factor” dominates the discussion. I’m active (i.e. posting at a minimum of at least twice a week) on around 6 different social networks. I’m not looking to add a 7th, and if anything I’m trying to cut-back on my usage.

I guess I’m just not a “charitable” or “exploratory” social media user. You’ll never find me using an online network that only houses a limited number of users. Why would I? Fish where the fish are, right? I have absolutely no intention of spending my time getting active and building a following on any wine app until I can see at least 1 million active users; either that, or it integrates so seamlessly with all the other networks I can harness the power of my Facebook et al. following.

I’m going to suggest the dust needs to settle a little more before anyone else starts throwing money down the drain by building and advocating a wine app. If they’re really going to pull this off they’ll need support from the wineries (at least on some level), and since I firmly believe that 99% of wineries in the world are convinced that social media is just a fad, we’re still quite a few years away from seeing it happen!
Paul summed it up best when he said
The sad fact is that the wine industry would rather spend money hosting an expensive wine maker dinner than investing in the digital world we live in.”

My solution to the dearth of quality wine apps is to download Instagram for your phone and simply record/broadcast your wine-adventures from there.


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