Just caught Greg’s piece on Facebook’s new mobile local search feature: Facebook Gets Into Local Search with Facebook Nearby for iOS & Android.
While I don’t expect Facebook Nearby to stay ad-free forever, with the entry of Facebook Nearby and Apple Maps, both ad-free, I’d say 2012 has been the most interesting year in the Local Search biz since Google Places rolled out. Many in the industry would argue that the ads do help people find the right businesses and help businesses do a better job at generating lead flow. But in the near term, I see these developments as being both a great win for consumers (more services to choose from) and a great pain for them (local search services can be hard to do well – see death by Apple Maps). But in the long run, the real winners will be local businesses and the agencies that help them navigate these murky waters. More big services competing to service SMBs should, in the long run*, produce better services for those SMBs.
Grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.