The future of local is real time and mobile

Since the mid-1990s, entrepreneurs have been trying to tackle the local market. Many have failed. Others, like Yelp and Groupon, have been successful selling services to small businesses, but those services are of dubious value. (Disclosure: I have puts against Yelp and Groupon.)

Study: Groupon’s merchant quality is on the downslide

Have you had the feeling the quality of Groupon deals is going down? If so, you’re right. A report released this morning by Giorgos Zervas, a postdoctoral fellow of computer science at Yale University, shows that the average rating of a Groupon merchant before a deal runs is declining as Groupon matures. Zervas and other researchers had shown earlier that a business’s individual Yelp ratings dropped after running a Groupon. Yelp ratings by Groupon customers were, on average, 10% lower than those of their peers. (Disclosure: I met Zervas after the initial study and offered my theory that the average Yelp rating of merchants featured would be declining.)

Your address book is mine: Many iPhone apps take your data

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Foodspotting, Yelp, and Gowalla are among a smattering of iOS applications that have been sending the actual names, email addresses and/or phone numbers from your device’s internal address book to their servers, VentureBeat has learned. Several do so without first asking permission, and Instagram and Foursquare only added permissions prompts after the Path flare-up.

Tiny Review iPhone app makes everyday photos into special moments (exclusive)

As photos become the new status update, we’re going to see big changes in the way people create, combine and consume words and images. The latest example is from a 500 Startups company called Tiny Review, which unites microblogging and social photo-sharing in its free photo storytelling app. And with a new update for the app out today, the Tiny Review craze is about to take off.

BestVendor is the utility belt for small business apps

Being successful in business is about knowing what your competitors know and being able to act on it. If you could find out what kinds of work tools are helping your competitors stay lean and mean, it could be a real leg up. You can’t just call up a competitor and ask. But a new startup called BestVendor is creating a Yelp-like recommendations network around work apps to make that kind of tool discovery possible.

Yelp’s IPO filing: no tricks, but big questions linger

Yelp’s S-1 for its upcoming IPO is a breath of fresh air. After five months of studying the S-1 of daily deals site Groupon, I’m glad to see local-business-reviews site Yelp come out with a reasonably clean document.Groupon tortured many accounting rules and made up some of its own (forcing it to amend its S-1 repeatedly and delaying its IPO), but Yelp seems to be playing by the books.