Optus today announced the purchase of restaurant review site Eatability for $6 million.
Eatability is one of the services that’s destroyed the business models of both the phone directory business and that of newspapers.
Thirty years ago the Sydney Morning Herald launched its Good Living section and it became the way people went found where the good places were to eat.
Diners wanting to make a reservation at the hip eating places being reviewed in Good Living picked up the phone book.
Now they do neither, they go to web sites like Eatabilty or Yelp where they get reviews, contact details and everything else they need about the venue.
Which killed the advertising revenues that newspapers and phone directories depended upon.
The sad thing is both the newspapers and Yellow Pages could have owned this space. Citysearch was setup by Fairfax to address the online market and it was sold to Telstra when the newspaper chain struggled to make it work.
Citysearch today languishes neglected and nearly forgotten under the Sensis umbrella. Optus now owning Citysearch’s biggest local competitor which must bring a hollow laugh to those involved in the early days of Fairfax’s digital experiment.
Whether Eatability thrives under Optus remains to be seen, but it illustrates just how incumbent strengths like telephone directories are being eroded in the online world.
Old men have to start moving quickly if they don’t want upstarts eating their lunch.