Monthly Archives: April 2010

Which is the Best Canadian ‘Mobile Web’ Local Search Product for the iPhone?

Well it is Friday night and I had another week of travelling. This week I was down at the Chirp Conference (first developers conference for Twitter) in San Francisco. The team at TechCrunch did a great job of covering the conference, here are some articles to check out if you have not already:

Twitter has 105,779,710 Registered Users, Adding 300K A Day
Twitter Adds Places To Its Geo-Tweets, Just Don’t Call It A Check-In
Live From Chirp: Twitter’s Platform Roadmap
Ev Explains Twitter’s Move Into Mobile Apps: “Otherwise We Are Failing Users”

So enough about Chirp, this has been covered extensively this week.

While I am waiting for my wife I was playing with my iPhone, actually wishing I had an iPad (after the Chirp conference and speaking to a number of people about their iPads, I am convinced that I need to buy one, but that for another day). Back to my iPhone – I was playing with Mobile Web, not iPhone applications and I got to wondering about the Mobile Web experiences for Canadians?

So here is what I did.

I visited the following sites through my Safari browser on my phone. Google.ca, YellowPages.ca, Yahoo.ca, and 411.ca. I tried to visit yelp.ca, but it gave me their actual website, not their mobile enhanced so they are not included.

I then entered the exact search term “restaurants toronto” for each site and was presented with their results. The screenshots below are the results page for each of the above websites. Check them out yourself.

So here is what I want to know? Based on the screenshots below for the search “restaurants toronto” and nothing but the screenshots below, which mobile application provides the best results? I am going to leave it as best results, you decide whether best results mean content, look and feel or brand loyalty.


In alphabetical order:

411.ca
411.ca Mobile Web - Restaurants Toronto

Google Web
Google Web - Restaurants Toronto Search

Yahoo Web
Yahoo - Restaurant Toronto Search

YellowPages.ca
YellowPages.ca - Restaurants Toronto Search

One more screenshot from an application that I am testing on my iPhone (it is not available to the general public yet) called Urbanizer, mood based searching. This application is going to rock. You can subscribe to get notified when it is available in the app store.

Urbanizer
Urbanizer - Restaurants Toronto
Urbanizer - Restaurants Toronto

If we are missing your favorite mobile web application, put the URL in the comments, I would be happy to add it to this post.

Are Canadians Checking In?

There is no doubt about it, if you follow the online local space that Check-In is “In” for 2010. A recent article on Mashable, “Foursquare’s Growth Not Slowing Down: 725,000 Users, 22 Million Checkins” definitely proves the point for this 1-year old startup organization.

In February I did a post on my FourSquare experience that you can read on my initial experiences and the impact on local.

A couple of days, one of my work colleagues, Mohamed Kahlain, follow him on Twitter, sent me the link to CheckIn Mania, a mashup that features checkins from FourSquare, GoWalla and Britekite. This was originally posted on Mashable.

In a nutshell what CheckIn Mania does is allows you to enter any city, click on the map and select a business. Once you select a business you can see who is the mayor of that place + how many checkins to that business and any tips. You also have the ability to select the “Search by Map” which is a neat feature that allows you to move the map and the locations update as opposed to updating the locations by click.

Here is the screenshot with one of my favorite restaurants (of which I am in the Mayor in Calgary) called Spicy Hut.

Check In Mania for Calgary and Spicy Hut

It is no secret that any of the location based services listed above have the highest penetration in major US markets like San Francisco and New York, but what about Canada?

Are Canadians checking in?

So I decided to spot check some businesses in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal to see how active Canadian’s are. I decided to focus on Restaurants. My selection criteria for which restaurants and spas to choose was as following, In Google I did a local search and selected business #3 in their 7-pack. In YellowPages.ca, I selected the #8 business and in Yelp.ca I selected business #6. This would give me a random sample of businesses. I also limited this to FourSquare as this is the most popular check-in service.

Here are my findings.

Vancouver Restaurants:
C Restaurant (selected from Google) – 9 checkins
Tojo’s Restaurant (selected from Yelp) – 33 checkins
Top Of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant (selected from Yellowpages.ca) – 17 checkins

Calgary Restaurants
Calgary Marriott Hotel (selected from Google) – 21 checkins
Capo Restaurant (selected from Yelp) – 5 checkins
Karma Fine Indian Cuisine (selected from YellowPages.ca) – 2 checkins

Toronto Restaurants
Bistro 990 Restaurant (selected from Google, this is actually listing #4) – 11 checkins
Pomegranate Restaurant (selected from Yelp) – 8 checkins
The Real Jerk (selected from YellowPages.ca) – 34 checkins

Montreal Restaurants
Restaurant Toqué (selected from Google) – 5 checkins
Santos (selected from Yelp, actually #8) – 40 checkins
Arahova Souvlaki (selected from YellowPages.ca) – 15 checksin

The only thing that surprised me about the above results is Toronto. I would have expected to Toronto to come in closer to Montreal in terms of checkins because of population concentration and smartphone penetration. However, this might be a result of the fact that Toronto does not have the density of Montreal (land mass to population size), which might also explain why Vancouver is more comparative to Montreal. Calgary actually holds it own, relative to its population size and the fact that Calgary.

Although comparatively to the US, Canada is not at the 1/10 rule (see some US results below), it is pretty clear to me that Canadians in the large urban markets have started to embrace checkin. This group, like in the US, are the ones at the start of the product curve and the big question going forward is whether checkin services will hit mass adoption.

How does this compare to the top US cities. Here are the results for San Francisco and New York using the same process as above. I used YellowPages.com as the 3rd source.

San Francisco Restaurants
Zuni Cafe (selected from Google) – 459 checkins
R & G Lounge (selected from Yelp) – 296 checkins
Cote Sud (selected from YellowPages.com) – 6 checkins

New York Restaurants
Spring Street Natural Restaurant (selected from Google) – 495 checkins
La Sirene (selected from Yelp) – 52 checksin
Serendipity 3 (selected from YellowPages.com) – 236 checkins