At the Brite conference, I talked about mobile coming to be synonymous with local. Here are a few paragraphs I wrote on the topic for an essay in a German book about the future of the net:

The biggest battlefield is local and mobile (I combine them because soon, local will mean simply wherever you are now). That’s why Google is in the phone business and the mapping business and why it is working hard to let us search by speaking or even by taking pictures so we don’t have to type while walking or driving.

The winner in local will be the one that knows more about what’s around me right now. Using my smartphone’s GPS and maps—or using Google Googles to simply take a picture of, say, a club on the corner—I can ask the web what it knows about that place. Are any of my friends there now? (Foursquare or Gowalla or soon Facebook and Twitter and Google Buzz could tell me.) Do my friends like the place? (Facebook and Yelp have the answer.) Show me pictures and video from inside (that’s just geo-tagged content from Flickr and YouTube). Show me government data on the place (any health violations or arrests? Everyblock has that). What band is playing there tonight? Let me hear them. Let me buy their music. What’s on the menu? What’s the most popular dish? Give me coupons and bargains. OK, now I’ll tell my friends (on Twitter and Facebook) that I’m there and they’ll follow. This scenario—more than a newspaper story—will define local.

To do all this, Google—or the next Google—needs two things: First, it needs more data; it needs us to annotate the world with information (if Google can’t find this data elsewhere on the web, it will create the means for us to generate it). Second, Google needs to know more about us—it needs more signals such as location, usage history, and social networks—so it can make its services more relevant to us.

  • Arne Halvorsen

    Great summary of what mobile local really could mean; why Google want desperately to be social? Need to do better than buzz or buzz better…

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  • Paramendra Bhagat

    Ah, the richness.

    The next Google? Wait a minute. Isn’t this early?

    • Jeff Jarvis

      I was waiting for someone to catch that…

  • Phil Thomas Di Giulio

    Jeff, you nailed it Jeff! Particularly in regards to the idea of tagging content to location. Through the build out and growth of two startups, my team has been focused on solving this very idea. In fact, I just gave a presentation about this very thing a few weeks back in Chicago, “Content + Context, The Holy Grail”. Also spoke of it on Weds at IAB during best practices in mobile media panel. Very exciting times! I’ll follow up w/ you offline. Best, Phil

  • Phil Thomas Di Giulio

    Posted the wrong URL for my website. It’s @holaphil. My bad!

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  • zhangzhen

    Does that mean instead of enjoying being there we will be enjoying playing with mobile at that place in the future? hahaha

  • Sean Upton

    Really, how hard is it for me to find out where to get a lemon meringue pie wherever I happen to be? That is the problem with local search, I am not searching for a bakery, I’m searching for some place other than the grocery store that carries the kind of pie I want to buy. Someday, someone will get that local search should mean more than yellow pages, naics codes, and coarse metadata about businesses. I want discovery of product and service inventory of business I might otherwise not know about.

    • Jeff Jarvis

      Google is adding the ability to find whether a product is in stock at a local store in a search with a group of test retailers. Lemon meringue to come…. Now if it can tell you whether the bagels are hot….

  • Dahlan Dahi

    As a editor of local newspaper and local online news sites, thanks so much for this inspiring article. The signal is clear: love data as Google do (ha ha that was I read in What Would Google Do!).

    Tx Mr Jarvis

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  • Dave Harrison


    In regard to your comment of “To do all this…”, being invited to converge the data from both the virtual and real worlds from the bottom up as compared with having it imposed on us from the top down is the topic of a recent article titled “Trust and the Trillion Dollar Brain.” . Although it contains a few entertaining commercials, remember to bring your attention span.



  • Sonic

    Largely the core thesis I put forward while working on local online 1.0 for AOL (a few years before your visits to us to talk blogging). But in 1999 the technology was not quite there, Americans were strapped with awful euipment and there was an utter fear of imagination: AT&T, Verizon and others balked at the very idea of triangulating “people” in the service of a mobile dating / meeting service.

    Timing …

    But local/mobile will evolve away from the leading trends of games and sex into pure utility. He who gets the utility gets the users gets the advertisers gets the win. Until the next shift.

  • Tim Bukher

    Google, and other publishers’, push to make mobile=local has been pushing the boundaries of Privacy law. Google needs data (about us and the world) to do what it is trying to do; we have seen several stories in the news lately how Google’s handling of “our” data has raised a number of concerns among consumers. Future developments in this would be interesting to follow.

  • stuart henshall

    One element in the mobile social local piece that is critical. Mobile devices have to become faster. Time to post, or time to access, matters. If it takes seconds to launch or it can’t run in the background and pop open when you are moving fast it isn’t going to work. Sharing this stuff and looking it up is all fine in principle. Still it won’t matter a fig if I can’t see it the moment I swipe my finger across the touch screen.

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  • NixleRep

    The next Google is something we’ve all been talking about. You need to take a better look at Nixle.

    They are creating content from public safety agencies and utilizing identity verification systems through NLETS and VERISIGN. This ensures that the emergency notifications are secure and correctly targeted by Geography.

    Nixle has cornered Geo-locating and are building a user interface that will explore the possibilities of “hyper-local” to its fullest extent.

    Just click my name to go to the site.

  • Matthew Wittering

    @Jeff so you would expect Google to begin shopping for access to data collected by services like Foursquare and Gowalla in the near future. This data could then expand on the places, maps and buzz data the presently store.



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  • coleTEK

    Your the man.

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  • mike

    You’re right about this for sure… “The winner in local will be the one that knows more about what’s around me right now.”

    The problem I have with all of this GPS locating is that it takes too dang long for my iPhone apps to operate while GPS tries to find me. I use the iPhone quite a bit while going to roofing appts, but I’ve had to disable GPS for many apps (e.g. Camera) because I got tired of missing good pics of my kids while GPS was locating. I don’t really need my pics GEO tagged, I just need the pics.

    They’ll have to do a better job at locating me if I’m going to keep using it.

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