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."