If you were on vacation, similar to me, during the end of December you might have missed Twitter's big announcement. The company acquired Mixer Labs, the creator of GeoAPI, which provides developers with the ability to query data. That data can come from about 16 million businesses and thousands of points of interest. The technology also offers developers a layer on which to handle complex geographical queries and location-based services.
GeoAPI will integrate directly into the Twitter API, which plays into Twitter's plans, reported in mid-2009, to integrate geo-based location into its service. If you passed over the news, think again. It could shake up the Yellow Page industry, according to Andrew Shothand, owner of Local SEO Guide, a SEO in Pleasanton, Calif. who focuses on local search. It's a big deal because most business data from online listings come from limited resources, he says.
This acquisition creates an "open Yellow Pages," he tells me, explaining it lets startups create an application that gives them instant access to business data. The distributed nature of Twitter starts to apply to the structured world of online Yellow Pages. We agree it provides an interesting tool for companies that want to set up a mobile, location-based app, too.
Shotland tells me the integration will create a dramatic shift in the way people search for local information. Twitter could become the clearinghouse for business data simply by having the ability to process, update and distribute the information in a way that anyone can use it. If that happens, you suddenly have an explosion of relevant, local information that any business can take and integrate on a Web site. And if that data matches up with tweets, it makes it all the better.
This type of toolset could even threaten the existence of traditional online Yellow Pages, Shotland suggests. Normally, a business must license the data, unless it's available free online. The companies that support business information might argue they monitor and verify the data to make sure it's accurate.
If Twitter became the source of "truth" for business records, it would become "hugely disruptive to the local search industry," Shotland says. The emergence of an open source yellow pages for local business is one of the 11 predictions on his blog for 2010.