What about Yellow Pages As an iBook?

I got into some trouble for suggesting that Superpages develop an iPhone app that looked like the print directory, in which you could turn pages as you do with the novels in the iPhone app Classics

The iPhone screen is really too small to make that effective as anything more than a novelty experience. But the iPad is a different story.

What if you took, for example, AT&T’s Real Pages Live and put it on the iPad? It would enable consumers to “let their fingers do the walking” as they do in print but bring all the benefits of digital to the experience — as the web tries to do today with mixed success. 

Imagine all these display ads with a video component that would play when touched. Imagine website links that open a new window within the directory . . . and so on.

As I tried to argue the other day, the device, somewhat ironically, offers the greatest opportunity for traditional media to express itself in digital form. It’s a device that can best reproduce the experience of viewing/reading/consuming the traditional product: better than the web and better than smartphones. 

If you had millions of iPads in homes this would be a pretty interesting opportunity for YP publishers, in addition to their other digital and mobile efforts.


13 Responses to “What about Yellow Pages As an iBook?”

  1. Zachary Says:

    I’ve been saying this for a few years now. Yellow Pages isn’t “dead” they just need to deliver their product to the public differently with additional features. I wonder if this will be their opportunity? I think it’s a good one.
    To encourage use – add an incentive component to it. But one feature has to exist – the ability to doodle on the front cover while chating on the phone ; )

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    🙂 . . . That’s what the “brushes” app is for . . .

  3. Local Search Source Says:

    Well, interesting – yes. But the “look and feel” version has been available online for years. As a matter of fact, it’s considered fairly “old school” these days. The iPad’s screen and functionality would make it more user friendly – but you’re still restricting the content to a fixed, static form, no?

    Make it interactive, with self-editing, linking and video features and you may be onto something (or, isn’t that what most IYP’s have already evolved into?)

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    “Look and feel” doesn’t really work online. But it would work better on this device.

  5. Ed Kohler Says:

    I have a hard time imagining that a business in 2010 – given the flexibility to present business directory information in nearly unlimited forms – would choose to replicate print in a digital form with a few enhancements. That would presume that print continues to be the best way to present business information, even though print’s format is largely built upon the restraints of printed pages (number of headings, size of ads, etc).

  6. Greg Sterling Says:


    Of course you’re right in one sense — there are more efficient ways to present information, but I’m fascinated by the translation of traditional print into digital form on devices like the iPad.

  7. Tom Wicky Says:

    Indeed Greg. I’ve said before there are a few opportunities around this for publishers. http://bit.ly/9V7EdO I can envision a location aware app that launches with “deal of the day”-type offers on-boot (with Woot/Groupon-style offers in verticals, etc.).

    Real-time location-based coupons would be huge but IYPs still struggle to accommodate/gather this type of info/info collection. The opportunity around real-time couponing could explode if IYPs could take on the cost of an iPad-type device and provision them for free in exchange for the billing relationship. As the YP iPad device enables 1-click click buying from it’s merchants, it would allow YPs to finally get transactional (take a % of the transaction) and remain relevant in the digital world.

    Free iPads in the home provisioned by Yellow would allow “Opt-in only” for print books and also give them a nice PR hook around the paper/eco/green argument as well…

  8. Zachary Says:

    I think the users of the yellow pages, whether digital or print, still prefer picking up the phone. Maybe if the iPad had an integrated phone feature…Evidence of this is the use of a “call me now button” as opposed to dialing out.

    What I think the YP really needs is to bring some “sexy back” just like Justin Timberlake 🙂

  9. Tony Nguyen Says:

    One thing is perception…A Yellow Book is still a book. An app is an app, it’s hard to search for an app to search for end up in a directory to find what you could search for on the search engines.

  10. Dave Says:

    I agree with what you are saying Greg, sometimes value is too obvious for these Yellow Page Publishers. They should be all over this not for the revenue but for the usage and added value they may be able to bring to the advertiser!
    If the Ipad is simply a tool at home, on the couch, in the kitchen, etc. A version of the old print book similar to the Real Pages Live, which may be able to be downloaded into the device “library”, would offer bonus distribution and value for the advertiser. I googled for a relatively mundane product-“carpet stores” in my city. On one page I found 30 results, 7 of which had a local number visible, 7 on the map, 0 showing physical address, and 11 links to other directories where I could start over.
    If I had the local ATT book downloaded in my “Library”, and it was updated to add working links for each listing, I would have the same basic functionality to find a seller as Google, however on that page I have 87 local businesses with address and phone (wish there were URL’s) also display ad content etc. In this situation the IPad-look and feel solution would get me to a solution more efficiently. Of course links and web interactivity would be a must but I may not use them. I may or may not need reviews or coupons but if the content from ATT had the ability to dig deeper IF I needed to, it would be a valuable shopping resource. Isn’t that all it really needs to be for an SMB and a local shopper? I need all my accurate local options and access to as much information as I need to make my next step. Call, Visit, e-mail, whatever. It may not be the “killer app” but it adds value to the printed book and I would have the store to go shop for the wool berber rug with Stain-Master for our family room! Bad Dog!

  11. Shumaker Says:

    Nice topic

  12. iBooks Aren’t For Everyone Says:

    […] on his blog, Greg Sterling got the conversation started about the possibility for Yellow Pages publishers to present their […]

  13. Ron Mintle Says:

    Yellow Magic Incorporated has iPhone, iPad, and Android apps that display a telephone book. It has full interactive media support and an ability to update pages even after the book has been released and downloaded. On a phone, the user can dial a number by just touching it. All URLs are hot and any part of any page can be made a link to do whatever is wanted. Anything in the book can be searched, even text inside of display ads. Go to http://www.yellowmagic.com/YelloTouch.pdf to learn more.

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