Apple's iPhone set into motion the opening of brand new markets where local businesses can and SHOULD compete. Before the iPhone, most smartphone users were mainly high-end corporate employees with Blackberry's. The iPhone made the smartphone easy to use and supercool to have.
Google jumped in with its Android operating system and licensed it to cell phone manufacturers. Within 18 months, smartphones went from a small percentage to nearly a quarter of all cell phones purchased today. Very soon, the feature phone with only a keypad dialing buttons will be in the minority.
The biggest feature of a smartphone other than the apps that it can run is the ability to get onto the internet. As smartphone owners have discovered that searching on a small screen works well, more and more have started to search for products and services that they want to purchase right away as they trek around town.
Bing recently reported that 53% of recent searches from mobile devices have some sort of local intent, meaning they are searching for a local place to shop, to buy from, to walk into to look for what they want. This is HUGE! People are going online to find what they want offline.
For local businesses, it's vitally important that people be able to find you online. What's more important is that they find these businesses quickly and get what they want from that mobile search immediately. Having a website soon will not be enough. The way the mobile version of a company's website grabs the attention of a searcher will become a key advantage to these early-adopter local businesses before the competition becomes fierce.