The New York Times Fights Back against Foursquare and Yelp

The New York Times Fights Back against Foursquare and Yelp

So you’re the New York Times.

You have best in class local, editorial content about your home city, which happens to be one of the biggest cities in the world.  You have a loyal, local community of readers that depend upon your advice about which bars and restaurants to go to.  You have big reach.  You have marketing expertise.  You have (relatively) deep pockets.  You’re not afraid to use technology as a differentiator.

And while you’ve been going about your business of delivering world class content to your readers, upstart companies like Foursquare and Yelp have come along and leveraged geolocation to offer compelling, user generated city guides in your home town.

As of today, The New York Times is fighting back.

Their recently launched geolocation app / city guide called “The Scoop” hit the app store today, and it’s a pretty nice effort.

Here are the primary components:

The Sifty Fifty gives you a list of the 50 best restaurants according to Sam Sifton, restaurant critic of The Times.

The Top Shelf provides a list of the best bars in the City according to Pete Wells, the dining editor of The Times.

The Events view shows you what’s going on right now.

And the “Only in New York” view, gives you a list of challenges to complete – stuff like “Eat Lunch with Diplomats” at the UN.

Users can check in, or “mark as done,” any venue, event, or challenge in the app.

While you are able to post your check-ins to Foursquare, posting to Facebook and Twitter doesn’t go through Foursquare.

So in summary, this is an app that leverages geolocation, The Times’ superior editorial content, and game mechanics to create a different sort of city guide than what is offered by Foursquare or Yelp.

I see this as a fascinating development.

Conventional wisdom says that Foursquare has already won the geolocation wars.  But have they?  Competing with a company with 1.5M users is not like competing against Facebook’s half a billion users.  And the New York Times has access to some top notch content about local establishments in New York that few can match.

My sense is that a lot of media companies will be watching The Scoop very carefully.  If it goes well, expect to see more local owned and operated check in apps.

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