I was lucky enough recently to attend South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi). The company I work for apparently thought that my friend and co-worker, Charles, and I needed to spend some time among our own kind and very nicely sent us off to Austin. Personally, I think they just wanted to have a week of peace and quiet without us running through the halls with scissors and shouting about standards, 508 compliance, and that design is NOT subjective! Whatever the reason, I am very thankful that they did.
For those who don’t know what SXSW is, it is a fantastic gathering of film, music and technology geeks. It is broken into three different, but overlapping sessions. I think they use the film session as a buffer because the geek geeks were running off with the music geek’s groupies. A lot of people just can’t resist when someone talks nerdy to them. Anyway, that’s where we found ourselves, in a sea of geekiness in one of the coolest cities on the planet; Austin, Texas.
One day, after listening to Al Franken give an incredible speech on Net Neutrality, Charles and I split up to cover two different sessions. By the time I found the room mine was being held in it was already full and they weren’t letting anyone else in. After looking at the schedule, I was surprised to find that I really wasn’t interested that much in any of the other topics. I say surprised because it seemed that most of the time we were trying to decide between 5 or 6 sessions that were of interest and pertinent to our work, plus 1 or 2 that just sounded like great fun or that featured some celebrity meet-and-greet. This particular hour did not even present an opportunity to get a faux-Maori tattoo painted on my face and pose with Mike Tyson (no, I am not making that up), so I found a fairly out-of-the-way table next to an electrical outlet and relaxed while I charged my laptop and phone. It was like stopping to catch my breath in the middle of a marathon, and I was really enjoying it.
On my laptop I have a skin on the outside that features a photo of some grapes that Amy took on our first trip to Sonoma with the name of the blog emblazoned in big white letters. I was surprised that this garnered some attention, not a lot, but some. I saw some people look over, and then nudge their friend and point to it, and a few folks even stopped to talk to me. It always amazes me what babbling on the Internet can do.
One of the people who stopped was a wine geek, but also noticed my phone, which led to a discussion of Wine apps for phones. We were both Android users, but I have had this discussion with iPhone users before too. It usually goes like this:
“Hey, cool phone! What wine apps do you use?”
“Thanks. None at the moment.”
“No? Me either.”
“I tried all of them that I could find, but none of them were all that useful so I uninstalled them.”
“Same here. Maybe I’ll check to see if there are any new ones one of these days.”
This time, due to the geekiness of the conversants the conversation turned to what features we’d put in an app if we were to develop one ourselves, followed by the usual litany of difficulties and solutions, etc. that would probably cause normal people to want to slit their wrists with dull, rusty razors rather than sit through more than two minutes.
Some of the things that were on both of our wish list included:
– The ability to scan either the label or UPC and get back results that included a choice of user reviews, ratings from the magazines, suggested retail price, etc. similar to the way Google Goggles works.
– Cellar management also done primarily by using the phone’s scanner.
– Tasting notes, using either voice or text input, that can be shared with all users of the app.
– Location based wine availability listings.
– Specials and deals, also based on location.
All of the above would need to be as simple for the user to accomplish as it is to get driving instructions from Google maps. That’s not asking too much, is it? Yeah, right.
I know from our extensive and exhaustive research that this site has some of the smartest readers on the planet, so I have two questions for you. The first is; what features would you like to see in a wine app? Secondly, is there a wine app that you currently use, and why?
Who knows, if we get enough good ideas someone might actually develop something based on them. Shoot, I may even drink too much coffee one day and take a crack at it myself. Feel free to e-mail me any ideas if you’re too shy for the comments section, or would rather not put your idea out in public.