It's pretty amazing. These days all you need is a domain name, ranging in price from $2.95 a year to $29.95 depending on where you get them, and that's it. Point the domain name to Microsoft or Google and you have everything you need and then some.
"Back in the days" you would have web site hosting and your email. With Microsoft and Google you get calendar, note taking, document editing and sharing. It's a virtual office.
Web site, virtual office: perfect for business. Perfect for small business.
Let me be even more precise: perfect for local business.
Local search is the big thing. We all know that. Everyone says so. If you thought millions of people looking for just about anything anywhere was big bucks, imagine millions of people ignoring other options and flocking to search to find just about anything near them.
There is a small problem though. A small majority of local small businesses don't have a web site. Someone somewhere might have mentioned them online but that's all.
Microsoft and Google offer small businesses a setup where they can have free hosting, no ads to spoil the fun on the visitor's side, and a virtual office. I see it as a way to encourage and get more local data.
Allowing people to make custom maps (Google) and inject their own (local!) data on it? Same thing.
For Canadian SEO companies that means an upcoming new market.