I’m a happy subscriber to AT&T’s U-verse IPTV service, and I noticed in the monthly program guide that AT&T’s Yellowpages.com is now available on Channel 97. So I “rented” it … a process that required a one-time-only download of graphics, etc.
The Yellowpages.com screen appeared after about a minute. It has the logo on top, a list of nine core YP categories on the lefthand side, and a featured advertiser tile and a search box on the right. When I clicked on one of the nine categories — of which eight could be viewed at a time — I could see that each category has a dozen or so of its own listings, with “featured” listings at the top. Featured listings also utilize an additional column with “copy point” info (hours of opening, etc.). If you scroll down further, you can get MapQuest maps of the businesses.
So — how is the service? It is kind of interesting but not so great. The logos and fonts of the featured listings, for instance, don’t seem to have been adjusted for the TV and can be hard to read. Moreover, many of the maps for the featured listings don’t come up. This is probably because they are generally toll-free franchise businesses that don’t have local locations.
Non-featured listings, on the other hand, automatically display the map but have no additional information. Ultimately, however, I feel these listings provide a better experience. The map is big and easy to see. It was good to learn that “J&J Electricians” is just up the hill from me, for instance. (I wish I had known that last week, don’t ask!)
I’ve been excited about the possibilities for Yellowpages.com on TV for a while: on-demand local business videos, testimonial pages, etc., etc. I still am.
But this early version of the service is minimalistic, slow, not always functional and often hard to read. The listings are far from comprehensive, and there is no audio (which would give it more of a TV-like experience). There are also no explanations anywhere on how to use the service.
But you’ve got to start somewhere, right? For me, this is a definite “Beta,” but it is kind of exciting to be in a test area. This could be important.
Longtimers might remember Bell Atlantic’s CD-I service from the mid-1990s. That Compact Disc driven service had mood music, menus, manager greetings and many other features. In retrospect, it seems very advanced.