Location based services, another area where there is certainly a case to be made for someone to make it suck less and probably a number of successful application to build on it.
Why it sucks
Location services suck because it's inherently hard to map the collection of information on the Internet to physical locations.
Most of it just wont map because it's not about something physical.
It's obvious, but true - most of the Internet isn't about a place, or a thing that is likely to stay in one place. This post for example, or this blog's homepage - neither are about anything specific. My house isn't
It's hard to map because language is imprecise, physical location isn't.
When you're looking for a nearby restaurant a blog post with a review of a restaurant in London probably won't give you an address and probably won't even link to a site that will. It's become the job of search to try and link the post, a very difficult job - was the post about London, England; London in Ontario or one of the dozens of other Londons around the world. At best the search engine might be able to link the name with another URL that contains an address - but there are no guarantees the name is unique or the address is right.
Sending letters for physical addresses with an activation code is one approach Google has tried, I'm not sure how successful it's been though - I haven't noticed locations search has stopped sucking, so I assume it's not the silver bullet.
How to go about fixing it? If I knew the answer I'd be coding the solution right now and wouldn't be sitting her writing and thinking about it.
The rise of location aware internet devices
It's inevitable, the rise of the iPhone, Andriod phones and other location away devices with Internet connections mean people are going to want to consume location based resources. Though they're not the first phones on the market to do any of this, they're game changing because they're the first platforms that make it easy to consume and more importantly produce location based content.
Like any good problem, this one can be solved with metadata!
We've got the consumers with their million plus iPhones, we've got the producers who all want to start geo tagging. The problem is how do we link the two and how do we make it easy? We've got a few standards for location tagging document, but no clear forerunner.
Suddenly it doesn't suck anymore
Services for producers and users to announce and tie information to physical locations is going to be the catalyst that really makes local search and local information portals of all kinds take off. It won't be long until someone comes along with a killer solution.