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Wine Spectator drives subscriptions with wine ratings app

Wine Spectator has launched an application to give wine connoisseurs access to reviews and content on their handsets.

The WineRatings+ app is a mixture of free and paid content with the premium version costing $2.99 monthly. The app is available for iPhone and iPod touch devices from Apple?s App Store.

?We know that wine lovers are looking for guidance when it comes to purchasing good wines at fair prices, and that mobile is their choice of access when they are in a wine shop or at a restaurant,? said Tom Matthews, executive editor of Wine Spectator, New York.

?This app is designed to deliver Wine Spectator's database of more than 270,000 wine reviews ? the most comprehensive, credible and independent source of guidance in the market ? to iPhone users,? he said. ?We hope it will provide a useful service at a reasonable cost.?

M. Shaken Communications-owned Wine Spectator reaches three million print readers and is published 15 times per year. The publication also includes content on both Web and mobile platforms.

Mobile tasting
The WineRatings+ app is an update to the company?s VintageChart+ app.

The app lets consumers browse through Wine Spectator?s archive of expert wine reviews.

Similar to other publishers, Wine Spectator is offering the app as a free download with premium in-app content that users can subscribe to.

Free content includes charts, articles, videos and news feeds. Paid, subscriber-based content includes access to wine reviews. Wine reviews can also be shared via Facebook, Twitter and email to friends and family.

By promoting the app as free, Wine Spectator can rake in downloads and then monetize content by offering paid content.

Wine Spectator claims that more than 1,000 ratings are added to the app on a monthly basis. Wine reviews include information on tasting notes, current auction prices and release prices.

Users can also search for wines by filtering search results by categories such as price, region and name to slim down the number of options.

The WineRatings+ app

On-the-go news
Wine Spectator also has a mobile site - ? where subscribers can access the publication?s content.

According to Mr. Matthews, wine information represents almost half of the app?s page views so far. The other half of app content includes searches of wine reviews.

For future mobile initiatives, the company is looking to mobilize its entire Web site to reach a wide range of devices.

Wine Spectator is using iOS as a launching pad but is also planning to roll the app out across other operating systems in the future, per Mr. Matthews.

?Wine Spectator offers products in a range of media,? Mr. Matthews said.

?We have the print magazine ? still the flagship of the brand,? he said. ?We have the Web site, with its accompanying mobile arm. We are active in social media. And now we have the app for iPhone.?

?Each offers a unique mix of content, and delivers it in its own way. Some wine lovers are content with one platform, but many of our customers subscribe to several or all of our products. Mobile will undoubtedly grow in importance over time, but it's hard to predict what forms customers will prefer in the future. We're just trying to stay nimble, and deliver value in every product we offer.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York