Called CitySearch7, the service focuses on the local community and event information in San Francisco for both residents and tourists.
CitySearch is one of many services hoping to attract users and advertising dollars that are using the San Francisco Bay Area as a testing ground. Yahoo, America Online's Digital City, and Microsoft's soon-to-be-launched chain of online publications, code-named Cityscape, are placing their bets on succeeding in the increasingly competitive market for local and regional directories and information.
Some analysts are predicting that the sites with the most recognizable brand names will distinguish themselves at first, adding that content and original features will ultimately decide which ones win.
CitySearch executives agree and say their site is full of original content as opposed to "just a bunch of links."
"We are actually reaching out to the community and getting them involved," said Scott Garell, general manager of CitySearch7.
The service creates a Web site for San Francisco businesses of all sizes for $50 per month. So far, everything from hot dog stands to the Ritz-Carlton have signed up with the service along with Bay Area restaurants and other local businesses.
CitySearch7 is also providing Web sites to nonprofit groups like the Big Brothers Organization at no charge. Other features include restaurant reviews, daily events, and neighborhood activities.
To entice consumers, most sites are forming partnerships with local newspapers, television stations, and other information providers. In San Francisco, KGO-TV will provide users with daily headlines, weather reports, and a peek at various locales through the lens of its online camera.
The site includes features such as Daily Report, which lets users get specific information such as lunch specials, traffic, and news; Weekly Planner, a personalized calendar of events that notifies users of lectures, theatrical events, and even a spouse's birthday; and Notify Me, which will let users know when a restaurant adds new information to its site or when a department store is having a sale.
A number of other features are scheduled to be available by the end of the year.