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Three stars for those Michelin apps

Monday, 23 January, 2012

Chapeau! Last year, a total of 1.4 million Groupe Michelin applications were downloaded from Apple’s App Store and three of them were among the 2011 bestsellers. ViaMichelin Mobile in the navigation category for iPhone, Restaurants in the France – The Michelin Guide Restaurants 2011 in the lifestyle category for iPhone and the MichelinFrance map in the navigation category for iPad.

Michelin Guide Although Michelin is not exactly a startup (it was incorporated in 1888), the company has always been at the cutting edge of innovation. After all, its core product, tires, are complex things with an evolving role in the safety and comfort of the driving experience. Talking of driving, those who find themselves in the centre of France this year should visit L’Aventure Michelin, which recounts the company’s historic journey from Clermont-Ferrand to the App Store. The secret of its success is that Edouard and André Michelin weren’t just great innovators, they were marketing geniuses and superb businessmen. Their big insight was that if people took more trips, Michelin would sell more tires. To encourage motorists to hit the road, they got into the content business and Michelin became famous for its roadmaps, for its Red Guides that grade hotels and restaurants, its Green Guides on regions and countries and the literary Guides Bleus, which offered cultural interpretation of destinations. And when smartphones came along, Michelin was well positioned to port its award-winning content onto the new platforms.

Now, it seems a more radical shift is in the works. According to a report that appeared in Le Monde on 14 January, “Michelin dans la tourmente” (Michelin in turmoil), the days of the Guide Michelin are numbered… in paper form, at least. The company is contemplating making it available digitally only. Why? The venerable Guide sold 107,000 copies in France in 2010, which is a drop of of 22 percent compared to a decade ago when sales topped 400,000.


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