There is a new local service that Google is testing named Bulletin, and is described as “lightweight app for telling a story by capturing photos, video clips and text right from your phone, published straight to the web.”
Currently, this service is available only in Nashville, Tennessee, Oakland and California. For Google, it is envisioning this as a way to contribute “hyperlocal stories about your community, for your community, right from your phone.” Google puts emphasis on “inspiring stories that aren’t being told.”
Distribution will be through “Google search, through social networks, or via links sent by email and messaging apps.” This is another initiative for Google, but the question is, what does the company want to accomplish?
Google has developed a global network of more than 50 million Local Guides, who typically contributes local information and business content. This alone proves that the company has the ability to crowdsource content for local communities and businesses on a massive scale.
Nextdoor is the only really comparable thing that does this right now. Patch, a local news network still exists, spun out of AOL in 2014, but it operates in a kind of anonymous homeostasis, relying primarily on SEO for exposure.
By comparison, Nexdoor has a very large penetration and usage across the US. But it doesn’t seem that Bulletin is a direct competitor for Nextdoor and may not even be a destination. It may just be a way for Google to generate new types of local content that could be distributed across multiple channels.