by Gord Hotchkiss
The news piece was buried on page 36 of the business section in a major Canadian daily newspaper. It was just one paragraph, a mere 46 words, announcing that the Yellow Pages Group had signed a deal with Google, making their information available on the new Google Local service. I'm not sure the editors realized they were running the obituary for an 80 year old, 16 billion dollar a year North American industry.
The localization of search has been inevitable. Really, only two things have been holding it back:
First, the accessibility of the Internet. Using a search engine to find local information only makes sense if web access is just as close as your nearest phone book. We're not there yet, but wireless networks and new mobile devices are definitely closing the gap.
Secondly, more local companies have to have an online presence. There needs to be some website for the search engines to find. It's in this second regard that we still have a long way to go.