Whither Yellow Pages?

23 Dec ’05

Mark Evans wrote recently about Yellow Pages Group’s acquisition of Trader Media. For my part, the yellow pages long-term plan has been a mystery for a while – at least with local search developing so quickly among the Googles and Yahoos of the world (sure, it’s early, but they’re coming and they never sleep), and soon to be deployed in GPS equipped celphones and PDAs. I haven’t used the yellow pages since – well, probably not more than once or twice in over 10 years – and I can’t imagine a search for which I would ever need them.

I’ve been suspicious for a while that the sale of directories out of the telcos, generally to private equity firms, and then into income trusts, was a financing play with nothing more in mind than buying low from sellers lacking the vision to deploy the resource and selling high to a hot-blooded retail public feverish for income trust products. (Is an income trust the right structure to use to compete against Google and Yahoo?)

But clearly there’s cash there. Will it still be there in 5 years?

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