Vaunted Michelin guide adds mobile Internet to its review menu
Michelin guides, lauded as roadmaps to the world's finest cuisine, will be delivered to iPhones and other "smart" mobile devices as the century-old publication embraces the Internet age.
14 October 2008
SAN FRANCISCO - Michelin guide director Jean-Luc Naret on Monday unveiled an alliancewith mobile "jet set" content provider Ubi Ubi as the Paris-based
publication's third San Francisco area edition debuted in this technology-oriented
"It is catering to the needs of the person on the go," Ubi Ubi president Mario Giacalone told AFP. "It is a generation that grew up with the Internet and is tech-savvy and mobile. Sometimes a book gets dated or people don't have it with them, but people always carry their mobile devices and we can keep the content fresh."
Mobile Michelin guides are online at www.ubiubi.mobi with the latest reviews of restaurants in the US cities of New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are plans to expand the offerings to include other cities. Naret says that while Michelin guides are adapting to new-age models of digital delivery, he is certain people will continue to want printed guides they can get their hands on.
He notes that a Tokyo guide launched for the first time last year sold 120,000 copies in the first 24 hours it was available in mobile gadget-loving Japan and that sales topped 300,000 copies by the end of five weeks.
Michelin guide reportedly sells about 1.2 million copies annually in a total of 97 countries. A first-ever Michelin guide for Hong Kong and Macau will be released in December.
"The books will continue to be available but we are looking a mobile and development on the Internet" Naret said. "There is a new generation going to the Internet instead of buying books."
Links to popular restaurant-reviewing bloggers have been added to www.michelinguide.com, and guide-using diners are being offered chances
at prizes if they share eatery experiences at the Michelin guide website.
Feedback from users is shared with Michelin's trained teams of inspectors, who are to bear the comments in mind when determining whether restaurants are worthy of coveted stars awarded as symbols of outstanding culinary experiences.
"With so much being put out on the Internet by people you don't know it becomes a question of who to trust," Naret said. "We listen to what people are saying, and then we go and see for ourselves." Michelin is a premier partner in for an Ubi Ubi mobile internet service tailored for "the needs of the person on the go," according to the New York City based Internet firm.
"It will make the brand stronger and refreshed," Giacalone said of Michelin. "It is Yelp-plus, because you have inspectors." Yelp is a popular social-networking website at which users rate and review local restaurants and other businesses.
Ubi's Michelin platform is to eventually let diners use mobile devices to post written messages to the Michelin guide during meals at restaurants.
"Michelin guide is establishing a connection with the community and at the same time maintaining its tradition and standards," Giacalone said. "The technology allows you to marry both."
Michelin guide on Ubi Ubi will also make restaurant recommendations
in categories such as "impress, indulge, or discover." Michelin's move into the mobile internet age comes as it plans a March gastronomical gala in Paris to mark the 100th annual edition of the guide, which was first printed in 1900 for motorists planning road trips.
"It is the 100th edition because we missed a few during the war," Naret said light-heartedly. "Paris will be the gastronomic capital of the world for a week. All the top chefs from around the world will be cooking in restaurants in France."
[AFP / Expatica]