Local Matters and Yahoo! Local

Some news on local search today … Local Matters issued a press release about their private label service at DEMOfall. I have to admit, despite having spoken with Perry Evans and having heard him speak on a number of panels, I’m still not quite clear what differentiates Local Matters from other YP offerings. Their community features seem to be pretty par for the Web 2.0 course. That being said, for most telco’s, a decent online local search would be a major leap forward.

In general, I expect the portals to beat the carriers pretty easily at anything involving the Internet and search.

Case in point are some new features from Yahoo! Local. Not sure exactly when the latest stuff launched, but they’ve made some major enhancements in AJAX-type interface for pop-ups and integration of user content. It also seems they are reaching a critical mass of consumer reviewers, which is making their YP content incredibly more valuable. Good summary of features at ClickZ Network.

I’m curious about how they put together the neighborhood boundaries. That’s not an easy thing to do, and there are no good commercial sources for the boundary data that I know of. Of course the definition of a neighborhood boundary is subjective (varies according to whom you ask) and changes over time (today’s ‘Brewerytown’ is tomorrow’s ‘Art Museum’, largely through the influence of optimistic realtors). Some blurriness in Yahoo!’s implementation … I would define ‘Old City’ Philadelphia to end at Chestnut, but Yahoo seems to stretch it into ‘Society Hill’ and ‘Washington Square’.

Also notable is the integration of Yahoo! Real Estate for rentals. It shows yet another way to monetize mapping.

My Yahoo! OPML support

Thanks go out to Jeremy for publishing a very helpful URL. After spending the last 6 or so months building my blog list at My Yahoo!, I’m finally free to share via OPML. First thing was to post the list on my blog, next will be playing around with mobile RSS readers.

And I would say that this feature makes me less likely than ever to choose another RSS reader. If anything, I’m more likely to entrust them with my information if I have the confidence I can get it back out when I need it.

Next I’m hoping to see some interesting things leveraging Y!Q for blog search.

My next phone: LG VX9800 or Motorola Q

So while I’ve bought half a dozen phones for research and testing in the last year, I’m still carrying an LG VX4500 around for my personal phone. Never was a great phone with regard to antenna or feature set, and it’s now well obsolete.

What’s been holding me back is the lack of a suitable alternative on Verizon, which despite my dislike of their attitude has the best national voice network and the only one with widespread broadband data.

My main criteria is a cool phone that supports EV-DO and has a QWERTY keyboard. I passed on the Samsung i730 due to it’s crippled WiFi (I can’t justify paying a premium for a feature that’s broken) and its old WinMobile OS. The VX6600 also suffers from an old OS and seems to offer nothing compelling in terms of features.

Now Verizon’s offering the LG VX9800. Not sure what OS it’s running, but regardless, at 2″ thick I doubt this is a device I’d want to carry with me.

I’ll probably hold out until Q1 2006 for the Motorola Q. Motorola’s sure got the design thing working for them. And I recently got the lowdown on an internal carrier benchmark test on handset antennas: Motorola came out at the top.

Searchable voice traffic

There’s speculation that Google’s dark fiber aggregation might lead indirectly to the ability to search voice calls. As I switch over my own voice calls to VOIP, I’ve been waiting for someone to start transcribing my voice traffic, especially voice mails. Even with the flaws in current speech-to-text technology, this would be very useful.

Postings from Silicon Beat and eWeek.

My paranoia about hotel keycards may be justified

I have to admit the ‘hoax’ email regarding hotel keycards put me in the habit of cutting my keys, which is kind of a pain when you travel a lot. As this has been a frequent topic of debate with some frequent-flying colleagues, I’ve been planning on buying a cheap card reader to find out myself.

Now a AAA IT guy (from a local office in Wyomissing, PA) has apparently verified that some hotels do record confidential data on the cards. So I’ll continue my cutting ways but w/o the feeling of being a compulsive paranoid.

Posting from TechDirt.

Update: A buddy of mine just said his wife took an identity theft class through the CLE (Continuing Legal Education), and they specifically warned against this type of identity theft.

Definitely sounds like more than a hoax. Now that it’s hit the mainstream press, I’m hoping an army of nerds armed with card readers will prove the issue and document which hotel chains are the violators.

SuperPages 411 SMS

Mocoblog brought to my attention a press release from a few days ago about Verizon’s SMS 411 service. It’s notable only for it’s obvious disconnect from the marketplace. With very strong offerings from Google, Yahoo, and 4Info out there, all of them free, and no barriers to entry (typing SUPER is no easier than GOOGL, YAHOO, or 4INFO), it’s hard to see why they think they can be successful.

Seems likely this is an example of Verizon’s lack of communication between divisions. SuperPages and Verizon Wireless are completely separate groups.

Article by mocoblog.

Dell's EV-DO plans

Apparently Dell Latitudes will have an installed EV-DO card tuned to Verizon’s network. Not sure why it’s not possible to create an EV-DO card and configuration that would allow compatibility with the Sprint EV-DO network. Seems strange they’d only build it for one carrier. Very different from WiFi with that regard, and much less consumer friendly.

Link

AOL + MSN = Search Revenue

Collaboration by AOL and MSN on search makes some sense, considering that Yahoo and Google own 90% of the $6-10 billion per year industry. However, is it a good bet to rely on Microsoft’s search technology? This has been MS’s biggest priority for years now, and they’ve apparently spent billions on the problem with very little to show. However, it sure would help AOL out of an unhealthy reliance on Google for search revenue.

Update:Good summary by James Altucher of RealMoney.

Google dominates 36% of the search market, according to the latest report by comScore. Yahoo! clicks in at 30% and MSN at 15%. It’s unclear what part of Google’s 36% is from AOL, but any change in the AOL-Google relationship toward MSN will definitely lead to an evening of the score.

Carriers don't know the ad market

At lunch today, a discussion with folks from a couple carriers about mobile couponing. It’s the idea that I can walk up to a restaurant, read the reviews of that restaurant that others have left floating for me in location-aware cyberspace, and then get a coupon from that restaurant pushed out to me.

Interesting comment from someone senior at a carrier: the carriers don’t know the ad market, they aren’t going to be able to figure it out, and they will need companies who do understand it. True, and in my mind, this spells opportunity for the big portal plays. Especially as the J2ME/BREW subscription world goes the way of the Internet walled garden and data transmission fees become commoditized with competition between carriers and from WiFi-enabled phones. Carriers will want to maintain ARPU and it will be interesting to see if they can grab a cut of the ad market.

On that topic, an interview with Third Screen CEO.

And a survey from In-Stat on consumer acceptance of mobile ads. Wonder what the equivalent stats for web ads were in 1997.