SmartPages, RealPages Partner For Local Search

One year after acquiring the YellowPages.com URL, SBC and Bell South last week joined forces to launch a local directory and search engine at the site. The venture combines the telephone directory databases of SBC and Bell South, and also offers maps and directions, city guides, and product guides.

Kelsey Group Analyst Greg Sterling said that uniting the SmartPages.com, RealPages.com, and YellowPages.com brands is a good start, but that the search tool isn't yet in shape to compete with the Internet giants now inhabiting the local space--Google, Yahoo!, and MSN. "It's an evolutionary step, and it was a challenging thing for them to integrate all these things," he said. "They've made it more user-friendly, but it's definitely a product that will need to continue to evolve to be competitive."

He added that the online local space is becoming a very tough market to crack indeed. "All these companies are focused on this area. Yahoo!, AOL, MSN, and Google--they're doing some very, very interesting things, so it's a very competitive marketplace," he said. "They [SBC and Bell South] clearly want to be thought of when people think of local information. I think they see very clearly that Yahoo! and MSN and AOL and Google are competitors."

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