Is There A Mobile-Only Yellow Pages Company in Our Future?

YellowPages.com.au mobile advert

Flickr picture by Dale Gillard

The Yellow Pages Association just released new ComScore data regarding business directories access on mobile. Excerpt from the press release:

The number of mobile subscribers accessing business directories on a mobile phone increased 14 percent year-over-year to 17.3 million users in March 2010, extending the reach of Internet Yellow Pages beyond the personal computer. This increase outpaces 10 percent growth in the number of mobile media users who browsed the mobile web, used applications or downloaded content during the same time period.

US Mobile Local Audience

In addition, the data shows that while mobile browsing (10.8 million subscribers with 21% year-over-year growth) is still the most popular way to access business directories on mobile, applications are used by 4.2 million subscribers and are showing a 42% year-over-year growth. SMS is the other popular method.

Mobile Browser vs. App Access

What I think is the most exciting news in the release is the demographic profile of those users. “58 percent of those who access Internet Yellow Pages on a mobile device are 34 or younger.”

What it means: following my last blog post about GPS inside mobile devices (see Four out of Five Cell Phones to Integrate GPS by End of 2011), the rise of smart phones, the future explosion of Android phones, and the interesting demographics of mobile business directories users, I have to ask: can mobile become the platform of choice for a directory publisher in the future? What would it take? The survey says “The number of people accessing Internet Yellow Pages on a mobile device at least once per week increased more than 16 percent year over year to nearly five million in March 2010.” That’s good but I think the directory industry needs to build applications that would be used multiple times per day in order to build a scalable and successful mobile-only business. It’s not impossible but the industry needs to innovate and right now, that’s not happening. Should a big directoy publisher buy Foursquare or Gowalla?

2 thoughts on “Is There A Mobile-Only Yellow Pages Company in Our Future?

  1. Great Post. I don’t follow the space at the same level as you but I think the YPs have basically been the custodians of the local market for a long, long time. I don’t see why that can’t live long past the ‘death of the printed yellow pages’ into a mobile-only future. In many respects, this probably matches the local search intentions of mobile customers with the local-only strengths of a YP really well.

    In terms of buying Gowalla / Foursquare … That would be painful to watch!

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