The redesign drives attention to local -> Google Place Pages -> Google Places makes G more of a info destination with reviews, maps, etc. (less need to visit . . OMG! . . a website!) -> the more Place Pages are "featured" and the featuring plays on the minds of people "depending on the SERPs" the more that drives business owners to "fill in their places pages" (for fear of not appearing/ranking) . . . the more that "I better do this NOW" thinking lends/adds value/content to the Google Place Pages model . . and, sure, if that has the side effect of knocking out local review sites . . well . .
All this assumes that the world still can't quite figure why it's a good idea to get off the G-traffic-crack . . and how. (I think the "how" may come to people's minds eventually (think "atomization") . . but G, as a traffic souce, tends to put people into a sortof traffic-sourcing sleep state . . and, besides hasn't Google done a good job of discouraging linking . . so how are you supposed to get traffic . . (no "diabolical" irony there.)
I'm not certain how all this will play out in the end. I think there's a chance that local-for-locals-by-locals is a model that can still "own local search", at least at the local level. Think "well done CityWebsiteDotCom, with a directory, local news and reviews, local forums, classifieds, etc.". It could happen. I've kindof been waiting for local news media to find their way, firmly, into the local-geo-portal . . while they still have some money left . .
But the otherwise "thin" geo-local directory? Very interesting times for that model . . especially if your geo-targeted directory looks and feels like the local SERPs regurgitated or simply reconfigured. Dead website walking . . staggering . . ? No Google love for YOU! (Hey, but we'll always have Paris, right? :( )
IBill . . It's probably a good time to have diverse income streams. Maybe it's time for launching a bot blocking app? :P
[edited by: Webwork at 6:28 pm (utc) on Oct 28, 2010]