Zipingo joins the ranks of local business review and ranking services such as Yelp, Judy’s Book (which just raised $8 million from Mobius Venture Capital, Ignition Partners and Ackerley Partners) and idealab’s Insider Pages.
Like the other sites, Zipingo aims to pair yellow page-like contact information for local businesses with user reviews. It was created (and owned) by Intuit.
Since all of these sites are well done, have similar feature sets and have financial backing, it will be very hard for any of them to gain enough critical mass to dominate the market. This is certainly an attactive space (combining local advertising with the potential for premium listings).
However, it’s my belief that a single, open API (in and out) yellow page service, with consumer ratings, could dominate this market very quickly. As great as these services are, they rely on centralized content and getting users to come to them to both write reviews and find a business. An open service could have an easy way for businesses to insert their listings (and pay for enhancement), and anyone could take the data via an API (enhancing the network effect many fold). I wrote about this very briefly last week in a post about companies that I’d like to profile but don’t exist yet (no. 7 on the list).
Back to Zipingo and the other related services, if there are any dedicated users who’s seen a unique feature or have noticed heavy user participation, please ping me.