Fwix has been on my radar for a little while now as a pretty interesting aggregator of local news. I wrote about Fwix a couple months ago on Hyperlocal Blogger, but haven’t had a reason to cover Fwix here on SBSM … until now.
That’s because Fwix recently shifted direction. It’s no longer just a local news aggregator, and is now positioned as more of a local directory/start page than anything. And it may have future implications for small business owners.
The Old Fwix
Before the shift, Fwix focused on local news. You’d visit a city page (like Spokane) and get recent news articles, “top” news, local weather, business news, and so forth. Here’s what the Spokane page used to look like:
The New Fwix
The new Spokane page looks markedly different. There’s still top headlines, but there’s also local photos and events …and a map with “hot places” listed beneath it; i.e., hot local businesses. These are locations that have been the subject of the most social activity — news, tweets, check-ins, and so forth.
There are also links on the left to see local status updates from Twitter and other sites, and a “Places” link that leads to a very raw, undeveloped business directory. I say “undeveloped” because, if you look at the Spokane places directory, you’ll see businesses appear to be ranked by nothing more than how close they are to the city center. (That might be due to a lack of social activity, i.e., tweets, check-ins, etc., in this area.)
Fwix also now has individual pages for each business in its directory. (The company tells me they’re getting business data from Localeze.) These are also fairly undeveloped so far. Here’s a Spokane business with just basic name/address/phone, map marker, and a couple upcoming event listings.
Where’s Fwix Going
Fwix has signed some big-name deals that may bode well for visibility and expansion. It recently began providing local news to YellowPages.com, and also has a deal with the New York Times Company to provide content to more than a dozen newspaper web sites across the country.
This new, local directory focus is interesting because the city pages remind me a bit of what MapQuest Local was doing a couple years ago (and is, sadly, going away). Right now, the Fwix city pages aren’t quite as compelling to me as what MapQuest Local offered, but it’s new and Fwix can certainly evolve further over time.
One of those future updates should be a way for business owners to claim and interact with their business page. Fwix tells me they’ve discussed that idea internally, but there’s no immediate plans to make it happen. The longterm vision is that a business page will show all of the incoming data that Fwix knows about the business from its various content sources.
It’ll be worth watching how that plays out.