Google Takes Local Mobile

Earlier today Google publicly released Local for mobile devices. I'm on vacation, so I won't do anything lengthy. Chris Sherman has a good overview.

It basically reproduces Google Local rendered for a mobile device. You can also get maps and driving directions. If the phone permits it, telephone numbers appear as links that dial when clicked.

Some quick thoughts:

Google, like Yahoo! and AOL (and everybody for that matter) recognizes the enormity of the wireless opportunity from a consumer perspective. It will be must-have functionality for the search players as local search eventually takes on a wireless dimension. (Directory publishers have had mobile offerings for some time, but there are bugs to be worked out.)

The "click to call" aspect of this is a natural for advertising/monetization; however, Google explicitly said there was nothing ahead on this front. Longer term, it's inevitable.

These wireless local-search apps are DA-killers — eventually. Directory assistance, a multi-billion-dollar industry, will go away if it doesn't offer much much better customer service and more competitive price points — as these mobile local-search apps come "online" and are increasingly adopted as alternatives.

Mobile is just another (natural) platform for local. But like "local search," it still has many variables that need to be figured out before it's a truly viable medium for both users and advertisers.

Google Local/SMS, Yahoo! Mobile/Send to Phone, AskJeeves Mobile (and so on) are opening salvos in what will be a long-term, highly competitive struggle for usage and advertising revenue.

One of the most interesting panels at Drilling Down on Local will be "How Far Away Is Mobile€"Really?"

It will feature:

Stephen R. Baker, Head of Emerging Applications; VP, eBusiness, Fast Search & Transfer
Oscar Berg, Product Manager, Mobility, Eniro
Heath Clarke, CEO, Interchange
Ali Diab, Sr. Director, Local Products, Yahoo!
Joe Herzog, Director, Emerging Products, InfoSpace
Brian Lent, President & CTO, Medio Systems

Paul Reddick, VP, Business Development, Strategy, and Planning, Sprint, will also be keynoting on April 20.

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