Everyone wants a piece of the local market. Yelp said “no way” to Google’s $500M acquisition bid and went on this week to take $100M more funding. That doesn’t mean everyone is scared of Yelp. They merely want to copy its success, and bury it in the ground (or acquire it… if the whole burying thing doesn’t work out.)
AT&T just launched its Yelp and Google Place Competitor called Buzz.com. AT&T surely has felt a kick in the gut with the rise of online advertising, especially in local… their YellowPages.com revenue has surely suffered. AT&T snagged up YP.com a year ago to bring the Yellow Pages even more to the forefront of cool online local advertising. It looks like that didn’t work, as that site still remains in beta.
Forbes says Buzz is different. It’s designed to help people “ferret out the best local businesses using recommendations from friends and family.” Buzz is about highlighting the best businesses without dissing on the ones that deserve anything but praise. The big difference between Buzz and every other site out there is that it’s hoping to get your friends and family offering reviews to help people they know.
On mobile devices, the site will offer suggestions based on your location using GPS. All-in-all, buzz sounds kind of lame. But, given AT&T’s power and network, it’s possible that this could world, and work well. Even with a semi-hip name like “Buzz,” few will be blinded by a name alone. If the product is useful and they can get enough people to use it (perhaps of a different and more diverse demographic that the typical Yelp or Foursquare user) they could be on to something, and that something could make a lot of mobile advertising dollars. We’ll have to wait and see.