Jake, come on now, we can't start using the print phone book as our measure for success in an interactive medium. The phone book doesn't have have a big map on every page because it's not feasible. The phone book also doesn't have proximity, user reviews, nor large amounts of meta data. But these are all good things when you talk about searching for local buisness.
I agree, that Gmaps isn't revolutionary (although the drag feature is pretty cool compared to the click and move feature of other web-based maps). Nor do I think that years for mapquest dominance in getting driving directions is going to swept away because G enters the fray. However, if a user is looking specifically for a business type within a specific radius, this method of presentation is intriguing. I think there is a good percentage of the audience that will relate better to a big map with locations rather than a traditional SERP like G Local.
agreed normal adwords and possibly enhanced meta data or logo on the map would be the monetization. At least for the time being.
I'm also wondering how long it will take G to replace their current GLocal mapping functionality with this one.