Bada Microsoft putting a Hit on Local Search?

Like a scene out of the Sopranos, the Microsoft family might be setting their targets on an area of the search engine arena that has the greatest potential of becoming monetized..."local search!" If they are successful, "Bada Bing" they are back in the big leagues, bucking the Don of Search...Google, itself!

Recently when Bill Gates filed a trademark for "Bing" for "web sites to link to geographic information, map images, and trip routing" it suggested to me that Microsoft may be looking to perfect a better "local search" mousetrap than Google! Local search is the use of specialized Internet search engines that allow users to submit geographically constrained searches against a structured database of local business listings.

Similar to the "Yellow Pages,"  local search queries include not only information about "what" the site visitor is searching for (such as keywords, a business category, or the name of a consumer product) but also "where" information, such as a street address, city name, postal code, or geographic coordinates like latitude and longitude. Additionally "reviews" like TripAdvisor and other consumer generated content ratings are attached to Local Search.

Its importance to local businesses within a community is significant for hotels and restaurants particularly where Internet users are trying to quickly assess value, popularity and pricing. If "XYZ" hotel ranks higher than its competitors in local search (which is always found on the first page of Google), opportunities to attract customers to a website and convert their business to a sale is increased exponentially.

For Microsoft's trademark to be focused on "geographic" data is a good indicator that the big "M" is heading in that direction. But we could be wrong! Last November, Microsoft filed a previous trademark for "Kumo." Was that a failed attempt at accomplishing a similar approach, or is Kumo another one of their secret weapons. Speculation has been rampant that Microsoft will re-brand its Live Search product "Kumo," but months have passed without any recent updates.

So what's the story? Is Bing going to finally provide Google with a worthy adversary, or will this potential "hit" go down as another "miss" on Microsoft's part? Will Google wake up again tomorrow and continue it rule over Searchdom? And when asked about being vulnerable...respond with "Bada Bing! Forgetaboutit!" Or will the Gate's mafioso finally rise up victorious!