At a recent meeting at Yahoo, in which the company sought to correct the impression that it was “done” in search, I asked about the status of Yahoo! Maps and Yahoo! Local.
Yahoo! was originally the innovator in these areas but eventually ceded them to Google and Microsoft amid internal turmoil and budget decisions. During that meeting Yahoo! said it recognized the importance of these areas and would be reinvesting (especially given their importance in mobile).
At SMX West yesterday I moderated the “Ask the Local Search Engines” panel. That panel was supposed to feature Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft. But Yahoo! pulled its speaker citing scheduling conflicts. I was totally amazed that the company didn’t provide a substitute speaker. At the very last minute I got Yelp to come in.
The session was great — the Q&A was 45 minutes — and Yelp’s presence gave the conversation some interesting new energy and direction, about reviews and the challenges on the SMB side as well as the publisher side of managing the process. It also struck me that the unexpected change was symbolic of Yelp’s rise and Yahoo!’s unfortunate decline in the local space.
Yelp is now more important than Yahoo! Local to businesses and consumers.
I hope that Yahoo! does reinvest and makes Yahoo! Local more prominent again, however I’m not holding my breath.