Yesterday Google’s Marissa Mayer said at TechCrunch Disrupt that Google anticipates that Google Maps use in the mobile environment will surpass the usage on the desktop by June. This is a significant milestone as the search giant continues to make its play into the location based / social / ‘whatever it is they want’ space.
Mayer called Google a ‘twitchy’ place to work which is an interesting descriptor because their efforts for social thus far seem to reflect that notion of an almost spastic approach to putting together a ‘product’. They are like a kid trying to put together something with Lego’s by using various pieces of several kits rather than having one set with all the parts designed to work together. Nevertheless, people are using Google Maps which is the cornerstone of whatever direction they finally end up going in. TechCrunch reported
Mayer noted that Google Maps for mobile has now surpassed 200 million installs. And those are active users of the product. Perhaps even more amazing is that mobile constitutes over 40 percent of all Maps usage. And in June, Mayer says that she expects mobile will surpass the desktop version of Maps for good.
She also noted that some 20 percent of the searches now seen on Google are for local information. And on mobile, that number is more like 40 percent. As Google’s head of Geo (which includes both Maps and Local), Mayer is clearly proud of these stats.
Another key indicator is the continued tweaking of Google Maps for Android. The latest changes make it even easier to check-in somewhere using Google Latitude and then rate the place using the Hotpot engine that was assimilated into the Google Places machine recently.
Here is a screenshot from the Google Mobile blog showing this addition.
Also, the blog gave a reminder of the Location History feature of Latitude which I can’t figure out why I would need personally but it seems interesting (I guess).
In her talk at the Disrupt conference, Mayer basically admitted that there is work to be done to get all of these disparate pieces to come together to make a cohesive and coherent offering.
She noted that one of her challenges has been to make the wide range of products in her department more streamlined. She said that one such maneuver to help with that was the folding of Hotpot into Places. And eventually, Mayer sees Latitude simply as a part of Maps (it already is on Android devices).
Although I am completely confident that no one at Google will care, here is my advice. Don’t create any new features until you take what you have and Frankenstein it together into a cohesive offering! Geesh, why is it that every offering from Google ends up like the toy a kid discards after 5 minutes on Christmas? Who is going to be the ‘product parent’ at Google who will pick up after these messy little engineer geniuses and put together something that makes sense for the people who might actually like to use these things?
If Google is going to ever truly keep Facebook and other more socially adept companies from taking away market share in other areas of Google’s existence, it simply has to slow down a bit, be a little less ‘twitchy and a lot more focused on putting together products that mere mortals might actually, gulp, use without scratching their heads.