Time for a Game of Leapfrog?

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Sebastien Provencher’s blog post about the evolution of local search at the Canadian Yellow Pages Group (YPG).  Much of it overlays the U.S. experience in creating Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs).  

As Sebastian points out, the industry’s journey to innovation has sometimes taken a “me too!” approach and sometimes been a game of catch-up.  Fraught with false starts and occasionally going out on a limb, the Yellow Pages have been in the game from the beginning and continue to move ahead into new formats that were unimaginable as recently as 2003 (pre-Google IPO) . 

Reading this, it struck me that the industry’s transition is nothing less than amazing.  As the originators of local search over 100 years ago, our memories can be surprisingly short.  Those in the business back in the early 90s must remember the first attempts to recreate print Yellow Pages online -building IYPs page by page, facing difficulties with navigation and the philosophical discussions on consumer behavior.

Today, with as an iPhone application and YPG’s foray into social media, things are changing faster than some believe. 

But still, he asks – are we moving fast enough? As the Google model begins to look aged and social media emerges as the next big breakthrough, the real question, Sebastian asks, is: “instead of doing incremental innovation, how do you leapfrog search engines?” 

He has laid out a few ideas of what the future might look like. 

I’d be interested to hear yours.

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