Whole Foods Market Missions app: a HealthSeeker ripoff?

Aug. 18, 2010 Whole Foods Market launched the new Whole Foods Market Missions iPhone app. Read the app description below, taken from the iTunes Preview page (the bolded words are mine, to point out the coincidences between this app and another app we launched on Facebook two months ago):

Get on a mission to better health! The Whole Foods Market Missions (WFMissions) app will help you broaden your palate by introducing you to a range of delicious, nutrient dense foods. Learn more about healthy eating and start a conversation with your social networks about the road to good health.

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Missions — Complete steps of varying difficulty and earn badges through fun and healthy Missions.
Tips – Get simple, practical advice on cooking, nutrition, green living, food storage and more. Save your favorites for easy reference.
Profile – Keep track of your accomplishments and brag about them via email, Facebook, and Twitter

More than two months before, the Diabetes Hands Foundation launched HealthSeeker™, a new Facebook® game, with the goal of helping players make specific lifestyle changes that focus on healthy eating. While the benefits of the game are available to anyone, HealthSeeker™ specifically helps people with diabetes make more informed lifestyle decisions in an innovative way that complements their daily use of social media.

There are MISSIONS and ACTION STEPS to help players achieve LIFESTYLE GOALS and create an opportunity to advance in the game. These LIFESTYLE GOALS include eating more healthfully, achieving or maintaining a healthy weight, improving one’s diabetes control and lowering cardiovascular risk factors. As ACTION STEPS are completed and players return to report their progress, they receive experience points and other awards for their achievements.

HealthSeeker™ combines a supportive social networking environment with important information on managing diabetes. The game utilizes the player’s own Facebook® friends as sources of inspiration and support on the road to better health.


On HealthSeeker game, missions are made up of action steps as shown:

This is how a comparable screen looks on the Whole Foods App:

When you complete a mission on HealthSeeker, it appears as follows:

This is how it looks on the Whole Foods App:

This is how my achievements page looks on HealthSeeker:

This is how the badges tab looks on the Whole Foods app:

Has Whole Foods Market been patterned off HealthSeeker™? Is it a ripoff? I would like to hear your thoughts…

All I can say is: there seem to be a LOT of similarities. Considering how broad this space is and how much resources Whole Foods should be able to put behind developing a truly innovative and groundbreaking app, I would have imagined that they’d try to avoid repeating the same thing that others are already doing out there… but I digress. What do YOU guys think?

3 thoughts on “Whole Foods Market Missions app: a HealthSeeker ripoff?

  1. I think in today’s ever-changing ‘net-based world, it is hard to say whether companies have had something up their sleeve for a year…or a month.

    HealthSeeker was not the first application to look and feel the way it does (for me).

    Do companies scrap something they’ve been working on because something like it comes along? Would you have scrapped HealthSeeker if you had seen the Whole Foods app come out before yours?

    • Good points, Rachel! We probably wouldn’t have scraped the game if we had seen the WF app come out. What I can tell you is that a game like HealthSeeker takes a little over six months to put together, while developing an iPhone app like the one WF launched takes about 2-3 months tops, so I highly doubt it has been something in the works for a year.

      Certainly we didn’t come up with badges, missions, action steps or tweeting/updating your Facebook status with your progress in a game. But I don’t know of any other Facebook game that did all these things with an emphasis on health. If you do, I would love to check it out.

      What is most amazing is that indeed not only in today’s net world but also in today’s intellectual property environment, it’s all so relative that practically it’s mostly about execution and very little about the way any product or platform differentiates itself. There’s so much commoditization that it’s not even funny. So, in the end (and because we certainly don’t have anywhere near the size of the pockets of Whole Foods), we will continue to work on making the HS game as good within our limited budget as it can be for the benefit of all those we can inform about it… still, I thought it would be interesting to bring up all the similarities I ran into when I first learned about the WF app.

  2. Manny, here are a few with similar mechanics

    meyou-health:
    http://bostinnovation.com/2010/09/16/sneak-peek-meyou-health-launches-social-application-introduces-game-mechanics/
    http://www.meyouhealth.com/products

    Health Month:
    http://healthmonth.com/
    http://www.bitmob.com/articles/life-is-but-a-game-games-that-help-instill-everyday-good-habits

    mindbloom –
    http://tree.mindbloom.com

    I have to say that while we are still working in keas about a similar offer, when we first saw your facebook app, we also reacted with “hi, this is a total rip off , how did they get access to our ideas”

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