AOL-owned MapQuest beta launched MapQuest Vibe today to help people discover local hotspots by providing real-time rankings of neighborhoods and places.
Users can vote a place up or down based on criteria like popularity and walkability to create an overall Vibe Score (sign in via Facebook to vote). Rankings are based on MapQuest's VibeRank algorithm, which uses MapQuest searches and cartographic data, like points of interest, to profile 50K+ neighborhoods, 27K+ cities and 50K+ hotspots in the U.S.
Startups with similar location-based rating services include NabeWise, a neighborhood discovery website, and UK-based Rummble, a local rating and discovery web and mobile application. Rummble, however, recently pivoted to focus on a B2B service that lends its recommendation technology through an API due to slow growth -- only 200k users signed up as of April. MapQuest currently has 39M unique monthly visitors, while Yelp has 63M unique monthly visitors.
"We're optimistic about Vibe in the local search space," Vijay says. "One of the big selling points for Vibe is how all the information is wrapped in a neighborhood context. Most local review products today don't really give me the context to tell if that great restaurant is in a strip mall between a Kinkos and a Great Clips or if it's in a fun pedestrian friendly area with a nice vibe."
For now, the only social integration is with Facebook, allowing users to post votes on their Wall. Foursquare integration is planned, Vibe spokesperson Jennifer Asbury tells LAUNCH via email. An iPhone app is also in the works.
"As more properties were able to help people figure out 'how to get there,' the natural shift in consumer demand was to start covering the 'where to go,'" MapQuest VP of Product Vijay Bangaru tells LAUNCH via email. "We think local search is made better by having as much location context as part of the experience. Having information about the neighborhood, hotspot, and city makes finding where you want to go a lot easier."
MapQuest launched in 1996, and AOL acquired the company for $1.1B in 1999.
Sort through nearby businesses based on overall Vibe score, Popularity, Walkability, Going Out, Edginess, Burbiness or Residentiality. Thumbs up or thumbs down a place in the left-hand column.
Describe your experience or just click Cast Vote.
Click Share to post your vote on Facebook. You can also invite Facebook friends to cast their votes.
CONTACT & LINKS
Twitter: @vrbangaru http://twitter.com/#!/vrbangaru