Lately, we’ve been working on giving you even better ways to find nearby places with Google Maps for Android, such as the Places icon and rich Place pages. Today, we are launching Google Maps 4.6 with a new design for Place page reviews, more options to filter search results, and a Google Latitude real-time updating option.
The ‘throwaway’ in that statement is the Google Latitude real time updating. You remember Google Latitude right? We have reported on its ‘birth’ and a recent thought on how it might be used. When you look at these updates by Google and the rumblings in the industry of Google’s move into social networking it appears as if these disparate parts could be ‘mashed together’ to make a social media offering that is at least intriguing.
With Google’s Place Pages Google is light years ahead of Facebook in data that has been compiled around actual places where people would be and tell others about their being there. If Facebook is leaning on bing for that information then their efforts will be, how can I say this, lame because bing local is not even remotely close to Google’s offering. Take a look at the new look Place Page with reviews (using review source icons for eye candy and recognition). It looks pretty sharp.
Now add in that Latitude is being highlighted as being ‘improved / updated’ and we are looking at the use of Place Pages to possibly facilitate social interaction. Imagine showing where you are using Google Latitude then tying the pimped out Place Page of the location to the ‘check-in’ so your friends can see reviews of where you are along with getting directions through Google Navigation etc etc. You get the point.
All I am saying here is that with the additional importance being given to the Place Page in the search result it is creating a need for businesses to wake up, verify their Place Page, optimize to the nth degree and then manage it. As this information gets better so does the information to be shared through friends in a social / location based environment.
This makes sense because Google cannot try to put together a Facebook knock off to compete with the social networking giant. They need to be different, they need to create or add value and they need to do something that could be seen as complimentary to the Facebook activity that many are already involved in. They have the pieces in place now and appear to gearing up to make what they do best, which is provide information, drive social interaction by more than just “Hey look at me over here!”
If you are a business and you are thinking that you are in anyway going to be tied to the web moving forward (if you are there is help arrange for closing your business down because that’s where you are heading) this line of thinking merits some attention. Like I said at the start, this is not based on any report anywhere but just the logic of what Google is putting into place (pun intended) and the power it could truly hold in an increasingly social online environment.
Maybe Google could find a sizable niche in the social networking space and not stray from their core competency of data aggregation and then slicing and dicing that data to be used by the commoner. Honestly, it’s the only chance they have in the social networking space because at this point to try to clone another model would only create another Google Wave, Google Buzz type flop which they can ill afford to have when talking about their future on the social web.