While there have been quite a few companies that tried to create hyper-localized services in the hopes of attracting the small advertisers in the local markets, still a huge, untapped market.
Google is taking a stab at it with a new feature in Google News for smartphones. The site uses your location data to surface stories that may be relevant to where you are.
"Location-based news first became available in Google News in 2008, and today there’s a local section for just about any city, state or country in the world with coverage from thousands of sources," Navneet Singh, Product Manager for Google News, wrote.
"We do local news a bit differently, analyzing every word in every story to understand what location the news is about and where the source is located," he explained. "Now you can find local news on your smartphone."
All users have to do is visit Google News on their smartphones, iPhone or Android devices, and they'll notice a "News near you" section at the bottom of the page.
This contains news from any source Google can find that is relevant or linked to the location of the user, derived from GPS, WiFi or cell tower data.
In itself, it's not much of a deal, Google is simply applying a feature that it already had to a mobile context. In fact, it's surprising that it took it so long.
But the interesting part is that if Google does it right and the feature works as advertised, it could be quite a big deal since no one has managed to provide an online local news hub that compares with what actual local newspapers provide and not for lack of trying.