Over at SEL I’ve written about a new WhitePages.com local search app called Localicious. It’s focused on neighborhood-level search and has some nice features like “pre-checkins” (via Foursquare). Tips and reviews for businesses are drawn from APIs.
I love the “Localicious” name but asked WhitePages’ Kevin Nakao why the company didn’t use the WhitePages brand anywhere on the app, which is Android-only for the time being. He said that he felt “white pages” was no longer as relevant to certain demographic segments. Indeed white pages are disappearing as phone directory publishers themselves seek to make delivery of the directory purely opt-in (adding fuel to the YP opt-in movement, but that’s another discussion).
The second product being launched today, which does carry the WhitePages brand, is WhitePages Neighbors. It’s focused on the PC and the quickest way to describe it is as a “social network for neighborhoods.” However the company doesn’t use the term “social network.” They see it as a way to learn more about and get to know your neighbors.
Several companies including FatDoor (the precursor to Center’d and The Dealmap) have tried to build more local or — dare I say it — hyper-local social networks. None of them have been successful (I’m ready to be corrected) because users were required to input the data themselves and/or there was no scale to generate revenue (e.g., LifeAt). On the latter point things are different now because of local ad networks and APIs — so developers don’t need to do ad selling directly to generate revenue.
Back to Neighbors. WhitePages and National Night Out have partnered and the two hope you’ll plan a block party using the site (NNO is August 2). It already contains all the people listings in the WhitePages database. So unless you’ve modified your listing or opted out you’re probably in there, which may turn out to have some of the same type of appeal that Zillow Zestimates did for home values: am I there, who else is there?
There’s the question about privacy and stalking, which immediately came to my mind. But users can claim, control and modify data; they just need to search for themselves, register and edit their accounts accordingly.
One of the cool things you can do with this is, as mentioned, is invite neighbors to a get together. That can also be done selectively by clicking on desired addresses or names. WhitePages will then send out paper postcards to those addresses with an Evite-like online RSVP to notify the organizer who plans to attend.
Right now there’s no groups, email or chat features to communicate with neighbors through the site. But one can easily imagine a ton of possibilities and use cases for the product. And because WhitePages doesn’t need to directly monetize the site in the beginning it can afford to allow it to develop over time.
So let me ask, would you be inclined to use something like this?