Oink, the first product to come out of Digg-founder Kevin Rose’s Milk project, launched earlier this week. At this point, the thought of yet another location-based app that lets you rate things may induce some involuntary yawning in you. After testing it for a while now, though, I have to say that while I was highly skeptical of yet another app in this space, Oink actually puts enough of a twist on the genre to be interesting and to become a potential challenger to similar services like Foursquare (or even Yelp) in the long run.
Chances are that if you want to rate a local business, you will first go to Yelp and similar services. Google, however, has been steadily working on adding its own ratings services to its portfolio. The oddly named Google Hotpot – which is now deeply integrated into Google Places – is Google’s most direct Yelp competitor. Starting today, Google Places users will get better access to their rating there, as well as the ability to import any GeoRSS feed from other services like Foursquare to their Hotpot/Google Places profile. In addition, users can also grab a feed of their Google Places rating and import it elsewhere.
In a post on his blog Venture Level today, entrepreneur Romil Patel describes his experiences with running Groupon and LivingSocial deals. Overall, his experience with Groupon was not exactly positive, but what struck me while reading his account was that the Groupon representative he worked with asked him to create positive Yelp reviews for his own business.
It’s hard to estimate just exactly how successful (or not) Google Hotpot, the company’s recently launched Yelp competitor, really is. Thanks to its integration with Google Maps and Google Places, it’s likely more popular than Google Buzz, though, and judging from the increase in ratings from Google users we’ve seen on Google Places lately, it’s probably working out well for Google. The company wants more publicity for Hotpot, however. Starting today, Google also lets you syndicate your ratings for local businesses from the Google Maps Android app to Twitter, marking this one of the first times that Google has enlisted Twitter in its tools to not just pull in information but also to syndicate it out.
I used to think that location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and all of their clones represented the next big thing in mobile. The reality, however, is that even though these companies are still growing (or at least say they are), I just can’t figure out why I should continue to check in when I…