February 22, 2005

Localized Services: No Matter Where You Go, There You Are

Here's an interesting web trend: Over the past few years, "localized" web services have grown considerably. Consider Topix.net (local news by zip code), Google's Local Beta search, Cairo (local shopping deals), and others. Over the past ten years, the Internet was a bit like satellite TV in its infancy: Lots of channels but very few local ones. Now that many pieces are in place, more service providers are tapping into their potential.

I expect the localized service market to expand substantially over the next few years. While making this prediction is easy, picking the winners is anything but simple. Some, like Topix, make instant sense and should do well. Likewise, savvy real estate brokers have tapped into its power by providing online listings. It's not so clear for others trying to fill various niches.

For instance, Dodgeball really gets localized. Think of it as Friendster for your cell phone via text messaging. It lets others know where you are, or vice versa. Sounds great for socializing, but the "Crush" feature could end up a little creepy. (It's definitely a new slant on "I was just in the neighborhood.") And I thought CrackBerry dating was fraught with some interesting social implications.

It's a brave new world -- with all new localized services. Some of them will undoubtedly be ultra-trendy. However, I also expect to see even more localized marketing and networking services online for professional service verticals.

Topic(s):   Web Wizardry
Posted by Jeff Beard