Thanks for the post Rae.
I am pretty certain that Y does in fact have the lead from a local search utility standpoint.
>>it leaves the door wide open for new players to do it better and earn consumer loyalty in the arena of local search
This, I am less certain about. What an innovator has to consider is *destination* or *distribution* or *both*. or acquisition. Neither is achievable without significant capital, superior products and time. Many will try and many will fail.
If you look at a group like Interchange (since we are already talking about them) (a public company by the way, if you want to dig deeper) ~their model is predicated on distribution. The focus is on the platform and its use by third parties -200+SEs in the case of Interchange. This technology + distribution model has significant challenges.
If you look at a destination model (Google, Yahoo, AOL, MSN and Mapquest) for the innovators, the challenge of "customer loyalty" is immense. Usually by the time a product is gaining enough traction it will be bought up and never realize destination value. Destination is a terrific challenge in the face of the leaders.
I am trying not to write too much here. ahhh. just an interesting topic to me.
In short any new local search utility that tries to compete will require destination and distribution value. Many will try, most will fail, and the ones that are the best of the best will be bought.