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What the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 Means for Small Businesses and Local Search


Don Campbell By: Don Campbell

The next time you walk down the main street in your town or city, notice all those people walking around looking into their smartphones instead of where they are going. Do you know what they are doing? Well yes some are texting or checking emails, but 50%+ are looking for a place to eat or directions to a local business.

Starting today, their experience is going to change dramatically.

That’s because Apple just released iOS 6 – the latest version of their mobile operating system that runs the iPhone, iTouch and iPad. In this release they are ending their relationship with Google Maps and providing their own mapping solution.

This is a significant change since tens of millions of iPhone users depend on their device to find local goods and services while they are out and about. In the past, when people searched for these things from the Maps app on their iPhone, they were able to take advantage of the millions of Google+ Local (formerly Google Places) business listings that have been claimed by business owners.

New Business Listings Data Providers for iPhone

Now Apple will not have access to that data. In fact, many sources who have tried the iOS 6 betas said they had trouble finding businesses because you can only search by business name, address or category. This means you can’t just type in “pizza” and get your local pizza place, you have to search by the business name, address or category to find it!

Apple will, however, get business listing data through providers like Yelp, Localeze, Waze, Getchee, Urban Mapping, DMTI, MapData Sciences and TomTom (who is providing the new turn-by-turn navigation capability).

New Maps Features for iPhone 5 and iOS 6

The new iOS does come with some cool new features, however. Turn-by-turn navigation will be a nice addition, and one that I am looking forward to.

The Flyover view looks pretty slick too, although it remains to be seen if it will be as useful as Google Street View.

And the new iPhone will use Yelp more heavily too. Siri already uses Yelp as one of her primary data sources, and now the maps will be using it more too.

How To Make Sure Your Business Shows Up in the New Apple Maps

As a local business owner one of the first things you should do is check to see if your business shows up on iPhones running iOS 6. The new iPhone 5 (CNet has a very complete review here) will run it, and starting today iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S users can upgrade to it too).

If your business does not show up, take David Mihm’s advice about ranking for Siri – make sure you claim your business’ Yelp listing, and list it in Localeze too. You should also review the Yelp categories your business is listed in, since more people will be relying on them to find your business now.

I’ll be installing iOS 6 on my iPhone 4S to take it for a spin. Stay tuned – I’ll report back once I’ve had a chance to try it out. I’d love to hear about your experiences with it too.

=== Update After Day One ===

Ok the reviews are in and people are not happy with the new Apple Maps. John Gruber, normally very pro-Apple, says:

“Seems pretty clear the new Maps is going to be the biggest problem with iOS 6.”

Anil Dash says:

“they’ve used their platform dominance to privilege their own app over a competitor’s offering, even though it’s a worse experience for users. This is the new Maps in iOS 6.”

Greg Sterling has a nice rundown of impressions from many of the major news sources in his Search Engine Land article here.

My own experience over the past few hours shows that I can’t find many businesses that used to be easy to find, especially non-chain one-of-a-kind businesses. I really miss the Google Maps data badly, and think this will put the iPhone at a disadvantage to Android devices.

It remains to be seen whether Google will offer a Maps App for iPhone like it did for their YouTube App.

Have you had a chance to try it – what do you think?

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About The Author

Don Campbell is the owner of Expand2Web, a website that helps small businesses get up and running online.

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