Oink will help you find the ultimate cup of coffee

New item review site from Digg founder Kevin Rose launches, and it's pretty good.

Oink lets users review individual items at stores and restaurants.

Kevin Rose's new app, Oink, recently launched. It's another new super-granular reviews site (see also: Room 77; review ). On Oink, the idea is that instead of checking into a restaurant (Foursquare) or reviewing it overall (Yelp), you instead review dishes at restaurants and hopefully add pictures to go with.

This has been done before (Nosh), but Oink is also a general item-based review site, though, so you can also put up a quick photos and reviews of Lego kits or chairs. Or the wallpaper at the restaurant you're sitting at. Some of the items on Oink are silly.

But the data in it could also end up being very useful. Say you're looking for a hamburger nearby. Or a latte. Or a comfortable bed at a hotel. While there's an unnecessary extra step to search for an item, filtered by proximity, this is a very neat feature. There are already more than 1,000 cups of coffee reviewed on site, for example. The best one near me, according to Oink: New Orleans Iced Coffee from Blue Bottle. I'll have to try that. And there's a to-do function in the app that will help me remember.

Beyond location-based reviews, you can also weigh in on "global" items. Screenshut by Rafe Needleman/CNET

And I have take back what I said about how a Lego review on Oink is silly. I just added a kit, and found that there are already five Lego reviews on Oink, ranked by how well the community likes them. This could help, a bit, with gift shopping.

I will be interested to see if vendors and retailers start to use Oink to monitor the popularity of products, and perhaps use the data when determining pricing or planning inventory. With so many people checking in and reviewing products now on mobile devices, it's time for this data to start feeding back into the economy. Sites like Foursquare already leverage the narcissism of mobile users (sorry, I meant the desire for people to be helpful) to provide this data, but reviewing an entire establishment is just so blunt.

Oink won't work if people don't use it, and there will doubtlessly be a fallout in activity after the service's initial hyped-up launch. But Oink is simple to use, it's nicely designed, and the community comments are fun to read. It has a good shot.

There are more interesting reviews sites for mobile users in the works. I've got another one coming next week that takes things in yet another direction.

Previously: Kevin Rose demos Oink: Check-ins for things, not places .



Rafe's rating: Oink

  • Product quality: Four out of five stars. More fun and engaging that you might expect. Leaving a review is simple, and the reviews from others are very useful in some categories. No Android app yet, though, and filtering could be slightly faster
  • Business quality: Four out of five. Strong potential if Oink gets into the deals business. Or customer behavior analytics. Too early to tell if user uptake will grow quickly enough once the initial hype wears off, though.
Note on the Rafe's Rating scores: These are solely my opinions, informed by my experience reviewing consumer technology products and covering startup companies over the last 20+ years.
 

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