Anyone in the local segment that isn’t already up and running in mobile or doesn’t have a mobile strategy is in a difficult spot. There’s a deepening connection between local and mobile, between the PC and mobile handset, as evidenced by yesterday’s announcement of the acquisition of app and widget developer Plusmo:
AT&T Inc. today announced the acquisition of privately-held Plusmo, Inc., a leading provider of cross-platform mobile application solutions, bringing to AT&T an open standards technology that will simplify mobile application development, accelerate innovation and deliver a better application experience for consumers. Plusmo will become a part of AT&T Interactive, and the Plusmo mobile application development platform is expected to be used by multiple AT&T subsidiaries, including AT&T Mobility. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
As the quote from the release says this is about a range of AT&T properties and use cases, not just local. But it will be housed in the locally focused shop AT&T Interactive. Plusmo has strength in the feature phone area as well, which can be potentially exploited by AT&T to reach broader audiences than would be available exclusively through a smartphone strategy alone. There are roughly 40-45 million smartphones in the US market (comScore says 32 million), out of a total of well over 250 million mobile users (CTIA says 270 million).
It will be very interesting to see what comes out of Plusmo and AT&T over time. It could well be highly verticalized widgets/apps and movement away from YP branded properties (see Have2P, Have2Eat, etc.).
Stepping back what we’re starting to see with directories is less a focus on particular products (print, online, mobile) an a growing focus on “leads” (in some cases performance-based) driven through whatever mechanism, platform, network or source. The publisher wants, however, to own as much of that as possible to reduce their costs and increase margins.