Crowdsourced reviews and directory service Yelp has made its long-expected debut in Australia, launching sites for Sydney and Melbourne that collect together reviews of restaurants, shops, hotels and, in the words of Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, "anywhere that has an address".
Yelp has been operating in the US for quite a while, and we've known since the middle of the year that an Australian launch was due this year. Initially the focus is on Sydney and Melbourne, and community managers have been appointed for both cities to help encourage reviewers. As you'd predict, there's something of an inner-city focus in the reviews to date: a service which doesn't include anything in (say) Parramatta can't exactly claim to be comprehensive, but that may well expand over time as users sign up for the service.
Long-term, Stoppelman said he expects Yelp to become active in other Australian cities, though he wouldn't provide a timeframe. In the US, Yelp has expanded into most cities with a population of a million or more; in Australia, that approach still wouldn't quite cover all our capitals.
As well as accessing Yelp reviews from the site, there are also apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7. However, despite the lack of a local Yelp service being one of the apparent reasons behind Apple's Siri voice recognition service not offering directions for users outside the US, Stoppeman said he wasn't aware of any plans to expand that option in Australia following Yelp's launch:
We have no idea what Apple has in store, just like everybody else. Certainly, we're delighted to be working with Apple and seeing that relationship expand, but we have no idea.