If you are like me, there’s a good chance you are frequently looking for a great place to eat but don’t want to spend much time searching. You may also want to have an easy way to review sites in a simple manner right after you finish eating at a restaurant. If you are knowledgeable of all things web then you are probably aware of other services offering similar services.
Yelp, for example offers a robust iPhone application for finding restaurants, bars, banks, drugstores, and more. You can then filter each of the stores or restaurants based on their rating, price, and distance from you. It’s a pretty useful application aside from one thing: you can’t review restaurants after you’ve visited them from the application.
A couple weeks ago I also wrote about the LivingSocial iPhone application. One of the many features that the application is the ability to write reviews on the go. This was immediately an open void in the market as Yelp has yet to fix reviews on the go. The additional benefit of LivingSocial is their integration into all the existing social networks which offer developer platforms.
The social recommendation space is rapidly getting crowded and as we rush to fill data into the system, there are going to be some serious challenges. One of those challenges includes consistency of recommendation engines within your personal networks. If half your friends are on one network and half on another, it’s difficult to determine which one to use.
Thummit and Simplicity
While numerous competitors exist in the mobile food recommendation space, Thummit is attempting to simplify things by limiting users to 140 characters, the same way Twitter does. The focus is to build out a robust SMS service and then extend the service to support as many communication platforms as possible. You can tweet your Thummit recommendation, text it to text it to the service, or update it from the Thummit website.
While the initial beta test is focused on the D.C. area, you can currently use the service anywhere in the country. For example I just ate at “The House” in San Francisco for lunch and was able to post a review directly to the site. The service then pulls in other reviews from around the web so that no sites appear to have a lack of content.
When I saw the demo at the LaunchBox Digital offices in D.C. last week, Sean Greene, the brain behind this new product, emphasized that the company is working to integrate many more features that make it easier to review restaurants. That includes automatically determining whether or not someone likes a place automatically via sentiment analysis.
It also appears that they want to take recommendations and simple voting beyond just restaurants. Food is simply the first place to test it out. For now the service is limited to restaurants but they may expand beyond that in the near future. I think keeping the service as simple as possible will be their key to success. What services to you use for social recommendations and social voting?
Also, if you’d like to register for the site, visit the Thummit site and use the invite code “hamburger”. Let us know what you think!