Commentary | Street Fight - Part 96

Text Me an Open Table

Alex Salkever

Text Me an Open Table

Another true story. I was meeting an old family friend for dinner in downtown San Francisco. I had told him to meet me at ZeroZero, a very popular newish Italian joint with killer pizzas and a reasonable menu. We get there and I ask the hostess how long the wait for a table. She smiles sweetly: “One hour.” Well that won’t do. Oh, by the way. The family friend? Works at Uber, a private car-on-demand company, as a business development guy. He’s newish to San Francisco and doesn’t know where else to go to eat. I’m likewise not that savvy on the Moscone Center locale and also was “budgetarily constrained.”…

Choosing a Data Partner for Local: What to Ask

Jeff Wood

Choosing a Data Partner for Local: What to Ask

Jeff Wood is a guest author. To submit a guest post, go here.

With all of the talk about data in our industry, I’m surprised that so few of the people I talk to in the Local space have a true data strategy — one that gives them real control over their own data and, most importantly, access to this data for decision-making.

It’s the nature of Local that a publisher loses the scale of large network buys. However, you gain the value of a centralized audience. With granular data, a site focused on the hyperlocal market can quickly understand the value of small pockets of inventory, and make educated decisions around how to package and allocate that inventory for sale across appropriate channels.

It’s amazing how many people simply don’t know who owns the data collected on their sites.

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2011: The Year the Check-in Reached Puberty

Mike Boland

2011: The Year the Check-in Reached Puberty

Michael Boland is a guest author. To submit a guest post, go here.

In the location wars of the past two years, one of the battle cries has been the need to continually innovate “beyond the check-in” — building things on top of the core check-in function, driven by evolving device capability and user demand (or boredom).

Companies have taken this in various directions — “checking in” to TV shows, for example. Sector leader Foursquare has dabbled in things like Superbowl check-ins.

At least week’s Where 2.0 conference in Santa Clara, California, Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley talked about how the check-in grows up even as it stays focused on “the relationship between people and places.”..

Mobile Search’s Sleazy Side

Alex Salkever

Mobile Search’s Sleazy Side

Mobile search is one of the handiest inventions to hit smart phones – except when you really need it to work.

For me, it was a frightening locksmith experience that revealed mobile search’s serious shortcomings.

My wife was out of town and the spare key was in the car she took to the airport. In a rush to get the kids into the car for pizza dinner, I had pulled the front door shut and locked us all out.

“No problem,” I figured, pulling out my smart phone. I punched in a search for a local locksmith and waited. Dozens of results came back at me, all with local exchange phone numbers and local addresses. This was fishy: we live in a small ‘burb in Marin County and there’s no way that many locksmiths are working in this neck of the woods…

Zaarly: Toll Taker on a ‘Buyer-Powered Commerce’ Highway?

Rick Robinson

Zaarly: Toll Taker on a ‘Buyer-Powered Commerce’ Highway?

Rick Robinson’s Turf Talk column appears every Wednesday. ..

Zaarly – it’s not a new verb expressing something extra cool. Not yet, anyway. But it’s got a pretty good start if you’re judging by its remarkable first two months alone. In that time they’ve pitched and launched the product, wowed celebrity judges at a startup competition in LA and accepted a million bucks in seed funding from, among others, Ashton Kutcher and venture fund Lightbank created by Groupon’s founders. And that’s all before the semi-official launch at SXSW or making a single dime.

Street Fight recently caught up with with the 32-year-old CEO behind this i-need-it-you-got-it service, Bo Fishback…

Can Groupon Guilt Save My Local Sushi Joint?

Alex Salkever

Can Groupon Guilt Save My Local Sushi Joint?

I may have just helped put my little local sushi joint out of business. A place we had eaten at before and liked in my town sent out a killer Groupon deal: $50 of tasty fish for only $25. The economist in me knew the proper path. Maximize the heck out of that puppy and buy two for me (the maximum), two for my wife (as a gift) and two for each of my two children. That would bring my family Groupon savings to a cool $200 and still keep us within the legal limits of the deal.

It would also completely hose the little sushi restaurant we were fond of and do exactly the opposite of what Groupon seeks to do – provide an introduction to new customers. We’d eat there eight times in a year, which is probably more than we would otherwise – and they’d lose money on us every time…

Where ‘Hyperlocal’ Is a Movement, Not a Business Model

Joni Ayn Alexander

Where ‘Hyperlocal’ Is a Movement, Not a Business Model

I’ll bet you £10 that “royal wedding” is the first thought that jumps to the mind of an American journalist asked about Britain today. Yet with the ever-present fixation on their profession’s future, perhaps journalists in the U.S. should look past the palaces to the real action happening at the hyperlocal level…

After Three Years, Examiner.com Looks to a Future Off the ‘Farm’

Rick Robinson

After Three Years, Examiner.com Looks to a Future Off the ‘Farm’

Rick Robinson’s Turf Talk column appears every Wednesday.

Tumbling into toddler-hood and growing-like-nuts, Examiner(we’re-not-a-content-mill).com celebrates its third birthday this week. Over that short time the network of sites has generated nearly a billion and a half page views. Street Fight turned to woolly-chinned Examiner CEO Rick Blair to get a little insight on the direction of the 3-year-old company…

WhosHere? Two Billion Free Text Messages, That’s Who

Rick Robinson

WhosHere? Two Billion Free Text Messages, That’s Who

I’ve been wondering what happened to WhosHere, and all at once a friend pinged me about them and I’m sent a news bulletin trumpeting how myRete (developer of WhosHere) has delivered its 2 billionth free message on behalf us its 2.5 million members. Nice.

So what is it? As the company states:

WhosHere is the first mobile social networking app for the iPhone to let users meet new people and interact based on proximity. The application introduces a user to others with whom they have something in common. When a user finds someone interesting, they can send free text and image messages and make free VOIP calls. All this is done without disclosing any personal information unless the user chooses to provide it.

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GroupMe Launches ‘Joinable’ Groups (Pssst, groupflier Already Has Them!)

Rick Robinson

GroupMe Launches ‘Joinable’ Groups (Pssst, groupflier Already Has Them!)

We’ve been over this before: while at AOL in the ’90s I failed to get approval for something I dubbed “Broadcast IM” — the ability to send instant messages via IM (AIM) to more than one person simultaneously, with each user’s response seen by everyone. Kinda like a listserv. Kinda like, yeah, Twitter.

Anyway, a few years later along came the wonderful (for its time) Upoc — group mobile texting and voice messaging. Then the tech bubble and subsequent mobile innovation collapse and general malaise among Americans regarding their use of cellphones beyond blabbing. I feared data on cellphones would become “soccer” – popular everywhere else in the world but too difficult with T9 for lazy Americans. Tick Tock… Hello iPhone. At last things began to really change, as we all now know…

Snapshot: Mobile-Social-Local by the Numbers

Rick Robinson

Snapshot: Mobile-Social-Local by the Numbers

I came upon some interesting numbers on mobile social media worth sharing. Lisa Braziel at ignite social media pulled together data from a number of different studies of late to tell a bit of a story about the recent evolution in mobile-social. Unfortunately, like most research of breadth, it’s a piece of the past and not a realtime reflection. So keep that in mind while digesting.

SNL Kagan looked at location-based services activity between ’09 and ’10, finding that usership almost tripled. Braziel concluded this, in addition to other data points, indicate 2011 could be the year of mobile social — where it goes truly mainstream. Take a look at the graphic from eMarketer

Hello Privacy, Meet the New ‘Presence’ – Location

Rick Robinson

Hello Privacy, Meet the New ‘Presence’ – Location

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Many years ago, when you were probably a tween, i was at AOL (sorry, Aol.) and a degree away from the following nugget. I think the folks involved included Ted , Barry Appelman and maybe Eric Bosco. I could have that a bit wrong but roll with me – I’m not the official techstorian and they’ll tell me if I’m wrong…

Civic Networking: The Next Next Thing?

Rick Robinson

Civic Networking: The Next Next Thing?

This is the first in a series of guest posts by thought leaders in the local arena. We asked where local-social media might go in 2011.

By Tom Grubisich
Some Cassandras are forecasting the end of social networking. I will keep my ear next to my computer for the sound of some 600 million people migrating to the next big thing, but don’t think Facebook faces doomsday any time soon. Or Foursquare, Yelp or Gowalla, to name just a few of the proliferating social networks that have claimed a piece of Web space. But I do think social networking is on the threshold of an important evolution that will both affirm its basic value but also take it into new and ever more beneficial directions. Shaping this transformation are economic, technological and societal forces that are propelling people toward a path with many entry points but one destination: to act together and to do so smarter and locally…

Ultra Local, Simplicity, Ego Lead the Way in 2011

Rick Robinson

Ultra Local, Simplicity, Ego Lead the Way in 2011

I thought I’d wait for the smoke to clear on all the 2011 tech prognostications before filing a few of my own. These are actually a bit less predictions than bankable trends. Their focus is on mobile but also the things around the edges that will make mobile-local interesting, scary, useful, intrusive and wonderful in the coming 363 days.

Simple Gets Simpler: Successful online and mobile experiences will become much closer to being intuitive than ever before, anticipating not the geek’s natural next clicks but the average Jane’s. I’m not talking about Web 2.X, with its big buttons, oversize input boxes and Ajax popovers but rather one action to the next dictated by the glassy smoothness of an inhale following and exhale. This is true behavioral anticipation leaving no room for confusion and no time for pause. Simple = successful…

7 Things I Want From My Phone for Christmas

Rick Robinson

7 Things I Want From My Phone for Christmas

I’m a little weary of the “Holiday Tech Stuff” roundups, as I suspect are you, so let’s just leap right into what I’d demand from Cell-a-Claus and his App Elves, were he to ask.

I’ve been a goo… not horrible guy this year, Cell-a, really. And I’m not asking for anything current technology would not permit. So please bring me the following:

‘Location’ is at Apple’s iPhone Core (Patently Apple)

Rick Robinson

‘Location’ is at Apple’s iPhone Core (Patently Apple)

The site Patently Apple has a rather interesting observation about some of the recent patent filings by Apple related to its iPhone. According to PA via records it has surface Apple is attacking the big and the small around geolocation, with technological tweaks and improvements (that are actually

quite complex) and practical setups to solving common human needs like “what am I about to pass on my trip to grandma’s that I might be interested in?”…

Newspapers + GeoMesh of Providers = Interesting

Rick Robinson

Newspapers + GeoMesh of Providers = Interesting

In the olden days (1991) I earned a stipend-like salary working for a Gannett newspaper outside Philadelphia. I did a number of things there, some of them poorly (i.e. quickly copyediting stories on tax rate hike debates) and some well (writing headlines; teaching desktop publishing).

But one of the most fascinating jobs I got to do was man the Associated Press wire. On the old glowing-green terminals they had us looking into in the smokey and nearly windowless newsroom, the AP feed would pour in like a precursor to The Matrix’s cascading code imagery…

Grocery Guide: The Hyper-GeoMobileSavvy List!

Rick Robinson

Grocery Guide: The Hyper-GeoMobileSavvy List!

OK ShopKick, ShopSavvy, CardStar and all the rest of you: Time for a new challenge. We the lazy, the lost, the hurried, the ignorant need someone to not only lead us to water; we need to be led from pond to pond.

I’m talking of course about those of us (particularly of a certain gender) who when entering a grocery store with list in hand (or more likely on our phone) proceed to criss-cross the place looking for sugar among the paper towels and ice cream near the butter. Who lays out these places? And forget about the wayfinding provided by signage. There needs to be a better way…