Huzzah! Location-based search is at hand and it’s already helping to take some of the minor hassles I experience when I travel.
For example, when one of the young people in my life call their older dude buddy “Jim” and asked “if I’d take them shooting again.”
The specific problem that provider of location-based search solved for me was providing me with the location of a source for .22 ammunition and a place where I can take my young buddy to shoot safely or in an environment where I can use the experience to hone a young (female or male) marksman’s skills. While finding a place to buy ammo was an easy : both of the location-based search providers (Yahoo and Google) seemed to know that sporting good suppliers like WalMart or – here in Southern California Prado Park
And I was surprised by which of the two popular search sites provided me with the information I really needed (the shooting range). It was Yahoo’s Eagle platform that met my needs, not Goog 411.
This brings me to the overarching problem with location-based search: the propensity of services to focus national business franchises to local search needs. This most often happens at the expense of local or regional businesses. I expect this from Google which has a corporate ethos that focuses on national brands when fulfilling search queries. After all, what company is going to have a marketing budget deep enough to buy into a new type of search: WalMart or Bubba’s Shooting Supplies in Barstow , CA
Furthermore, although Bubba may use Google as his personal search engine, he’d most likely balk at the fees Google charges for positioned search results. All of the above, plus my own experience with nascent location-based search using my new (and quite fabulous) Palm Centro, makes me wonder if there isn’t a niche market with a good down stream exit strategy, for small location-based search startups specializing in specific geographic market? Here in the Western US, it’s not all that hard to imagine such services serving Pacific coast cities like San Diego Los Angeles Portland Seattle Boise Salt Lake City Las Vegas Phoenix Reno
Salt Lake City
How natural would it seem for a Google, Microsoft or Yahoo to acquire such regional sites and meld them into their network? Sounds like an exit strategy to me. But there’s another potential buyer for location-based search suppliers that’s all but overlooked by the small handful of startups in this space: cell phone network owners.
The cell phone business is as driven by subscription renewals as it is by new subscribers. Location- based search that gives me local suppliers of services I want when I travel out of my home area or even when I’m at home, is a reason I might choose to renew my two-year contract with my cell service provider, or it could even be the tipping point that fores mne to switch vendors when I next renew my service.
I was once asked by a former editor, Mike Edelhart, “how many revolutions can you live through?” Well, Mike, the location-based search revolution is starting now and I’m glad I’ve been around long enough to see it.
But now it’s time to go pick up a young marksmen for a morning of target practice and a very real practical demonstration of why hot loaded .22 long rifle ammunition shoots straighter than “on sale” common factory loads. Besides, I sucker betted my young buddy two-cents a point that “CCI Minimag .22 LR can boost your target scores.” I can almost taste the 31 Flavors chocolate chip ice cream cone I will buy with the money I win on this bet later today. Me, exploit a 14-year-old boy with a sucker bet? You betcha!
Besides. It teaches him to pay up on “friendly” bets.—Jim Forbes, August 15, 2008/