Q&A: Real Time Wine's Andy Hadfield PDF Print E-mail

Real Time Wine, the wine review site renowned for its short and simple, 140-character long wine reviews written “for the people, by the people”, recently went mobile with the launch of an app. We caught up with founder Andy Hadfield to find out more.

My Digital Life: Why did you decide to launch an app?

Andy Hadfield: Apps are all about single purpose, great experience, mobile utility. Sexy usefulness, if you will. And distribution. If you look at what Real Time Wine is all about, we’re trying to capture and enhance the moments you have with wine. One of those moments will occur at a supermarket, when you’re trying to decide what to choose. Now, I don’t know the last time you carried a laptop into the supermarket, but my laptop and pocket size still conflict a little too badly! That supermarket experience is inherently mobile. We expect users to look through the Trending/Popular screen for wine suggestions, or buy off their Wish List – which they can populate as they explore the app and come across interesting wines.

The next “user journey” would probably be at a restaurant or around the dinner table with friends. That’s where it’s all about “Check In” to the wine you’re drinking and sharing your rating/review with friends, thereby helping them to make better choices. Again, laptops at the dinner table are banned in my house. iPads I’ll get away with from time to time, mobile phones… well, [one] can always sneak a look at those.

myDL: When will the Real Time Wine app be available to BlackBerry users?

AH: At present, we only have an iPhone and Android (OS 2.3+) app. BUT, we know that BlackBerry is extremely popular in South Africa, so we’ve specially optimised the mobile site for BlackBerry users. Go to http://realtimewine.com on your BlackBerry browser and you’ll see our special BlackBerry experience – especially designed for those track wheel scroll thingies that BlackBerry users seem so quick on.

myDL:  Any comments from the local wine making community? Are they for/against this “taking the snobbery out of wine” concept?

AH: Many wineries have been behind us from the word go. All they’re interested in is exposing people to the products they create, learning what their customers think of their products and having some fun doing it. It’s an important community to build when you think that direct alcohol advertising may be banned in the coming years. Cementing communities of wine drinkers and creating alternative routes to market are pretty important right now.

Some of the more – shall we say – technical wine writers and reviewers aren’t too fond of us. I can understand that: our cheeky brand does poke fun at them. I think there is plenty of room for both. Anecdotal stats show that 80% of wine this country is purchased at a supermarket. And roughly 80% of that is consumed within 24 hours. That market won’t get a huge amount of use out of the in depth analysis that some of these professional wine critics do. The top 20% of the market – those who really want to get to the nitty-gritty of wine – they’ll buy from farms, friends, wine clubs and the like. Professional wine critics make so much sense at the top of the wine market. We’re going for the “bottom” 80%.

myDL: Has the site taken off among wine consumers abroad? Or is it a strictly South African thing, limited to South African labels?

AH: We’ve got a user in Afghanistan! How cool is that? About half the downloads have come from international users so far (with Europe and USA dominating). Which is exciting, but a little scary, because we haven’t quite rolled out international support yet. It’s coming soon, in the first update. We’ll add a country filter so the content you’re viewing will be applicable to your country. (Trending Wines in Brazil, for instance.) We are definitely building this for a global wine community.

myDL: Do you have any plans to further expand/enhance the app that you would like to reveal?

AH: Ooh, plenty of stuff coming. [Users will be able to] take a picture with each Check In. Find wines on special at retailers near you. And plenty more iteration and tweaks based on the flood of amazing feedback that our users are giving us.

Remember, everyone can be a reviewer. Real Time Wine is for everybody who likes wine. Not just those who understand it!
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