Here are a handful of news items to round out the week:
—Microsoft has come out with its "answer" to Yahoo! Answers and Google Answers, called Microsoft's Windows Live QnA. Like the others, this could be a valuable local search resource for users to ask specific questions — a kind of social media way of getting us closer to the elusive concept of natural language search. Search Engine Journal has more.
—In the recent TKG Advisory Targeting Users: Application Level Innovation in Mobile Local Search, the uptake of some mobile local search platforms was seen as being dependent on (among many other factors) the widespread adoption of hardware that is more conducive to data input and mapping, i.e., smartphones. Gartner recently predicted rapid expansion in the smartphone market, and Palm reported strong top-line growth and projected continued growth in Treo sales.
—The Wall Street Journal reports (via Paid Content) that Comcast has acquired thePlatform. It will use this to build a more robust online portal that will include free and paid video-on-demand content.
—Om Malik poses the question, Will the growth in Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi services help location-based services get off the ground?
—Wired magazine has an interesting piece on the challenge facing MySpace in its tightrope act of monetizing massive amounts of traffic, without driving away that very traffic (consisting largely of a fickle demographic, as we and others have pointed out in the past). With MySpace, Fox Interactive Media has everything to lose but also a great deal to gain. More of our past commentary on this challenge here, here and here.
—ClickZ News points to a Borrell report that projects online real estate spending will grow from $2 billion this year (17.7 percent of all real estate ad spending) to $3 billion by 2010 (32.1 percent of real estate ad spending).
—Lastly, John Dvorak tells us why Microsoft won’t buy Yahoo!.