If Yahoo wants to be competitive in mobile over the long term it absolutely needs to address local. That doesn’t mean recreating Google Maps or Street View. It does however have to offer a credible and useful local search or local discovery experience on mobile devices.
Yesterday Yahoo introduced an enhanced Google-like update to local search results on the PC. Yahoo is starting to show a range of enhanced information on the right side of the page: “information like a company overview, photos, hours of operation, parking availability and more. With a noticeably larger map that stays put on the sidebar, it’s easier to find the location closest to you.”
I’m not seeing it quite yet. But here’s a comparison for “House of Prime Rib, San Francisco.” First the before/current shot and then the new or enhanced layout.
The new layout is more useful and visually appealing. However it’s unimaginatively almost identical to what Google is doing with its “knowledge graph.” Here’s the same search result from Google:
While Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer ran local for Google in her final couple of years at the company that’s no excuse for simply mimicking what Google has done. The thinking might be: duplicate the user experience on Google and make Yahoo an acceptable alternative.
However Yahoo will need to do something truly innovative and interesting in order to win new usage. I can think of lots of things it could do with local on mobile devices to create a differentiated but still useful “local search” or discovery experience. Let’s if it does any of those things.