Google Hotpot Being Subsumed Into Places

The Lat Long Blog just announced that Google Hotpot, rather than being a separately branded product, will now just be part of Places. It previously was integrated into Places in Mobile but was a stand alone product on the desktop. What this means for the feature set is unclear. Here is the statement from Ron Lior, the product manager for Hotpot:

It’s been incredibly exciting to watch Hotpot grow—the community has quickly expanded to millions of users who are rating more than one million times per month and enjoying a truly personalized view of the world. Based on this success, we’ve decided to graduate Hotpot to be a permanent part of our core local product offering, Google Places. Rolling Hotpot into Google Places helps simplify the connection between the places that are rated and reviewed and the more than 50 million places that already have an online presence through Google Places—places that millions of people search for and find every day on Google.

Hotpot has been an incredible success in getting Google into the review space. In a few short months, Google moved from a paltry 3% of the review corpus to upwards of 20% and in some markets as much as 37%. Clearly, they have invested heavily in marketing of the brand as well as the features…. to loose the brand at this point would be more than bizarre….

Clearly, Google, in democratizing the review process, making it simpler and pushing it out to the cell phone has facilitated a broad expansion of the review process by folks that never left reviews before. In that effort, they were able to achieve a run rate of over a million a month (13 million or so a year). That compares to the roughly 15 million total reviews that Yelp has garnered and an estimated current rate of about 600,000 a month.

Does this portend the end of the stand alone Hotpot interface on the desktop? Does it just get rebranded? Does it get more fully integrated into Places? Does it just exist as a feature to Places in mobile?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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14 thoughts on “Google Hotpot Being Subsumed Into Places”

  1. Mike, its just the beginning of the desktop interface :) its now called places – as our mobile app on both iPhone and Android – so one consistent brand for everything we’re doing

  2. Hi Lior

    Thanks for stopping by. So one brand and you will keep the new desktop interface… does it then mean better integration between the two? (Have you ever tried to create a review in Places without a nickname? It’s a nightmare.)

    And does it mean more of the serendipity that is HotPot in Google Places on the iPhone?

  3. Mike: thanks for the article and the hard data on review volume and run rates. The volume is astounding….and has exploded in a relatively short period. I had no idea of the scope of total reviews Google has garnered, while hearing and reading about its promotions in the test cities. Very large!!!

    I’m wondering how Google will address attack and spam reviews, since its volume is so large, its visibility so great, and the anecdotal examples of attack reviews having a devastating impact on businesses being so vivid.

    I had an interesting discussion and shared data with someone concerning 2 examples of what we considered to be either falsified or malicious attack reviews.

    In an example wherein the review sat on google places; leads to the business during the period the attack review stood out dropped at a horrendous rate. In the example where an attack review was in Yelp and not yet scraped into Google Places there was no apparant impact on the business volume of leads. While grabbing a lot of traffic in its own regard the yelp traffic was a fraction of the overall google traffic.

    This is a situation wherein Google needs to go to bat and address a way in which reviews of questionable nature and intent can be removed.

  4. @Earl

    Like all things Google, they are attempting to handle it by algo with mixed results. Many reviews and patterns of reviews that appear spammy to a human are not being caught. And in that good reviews are being taken down. It is a work in progress as far as I can tell and one that still needs a great deal of refinement.

  5. Well one piece of good news. Looks like now that HotPot has merged into it’s rightful “Place” at the core of Google’s local offering, Google Places now ranks enough to have it’s own Google Blog.

    http://places.blogspot.com/

    Unless it was there before and I missed it. But it looks to me like most previous posts were about HotPot and maps, so I think the HotPot blog was renamed to the Google Places blog or something??? Is that right?

  6. Google in my opinion seems to be having some product naming/branding issues of late. They roll out a brand, then they remove or collapse it into something else before the general public is really even entirely aware it exists. This reflects more a lack of brand strategy than it does marketplace reaction. Google needs to treat product brands with the same investment and long-term strategy that a company like Apple does, otherwise, they’re less likely to have those products taken as serious long-term commitments. Wave (bye-bye)…. Hotpot (toast)… it’s getting kind of annoying to try and keep up or even care about the names they come up with for these technologies.

    P.S. Minor typo quibble “loose the brand” instead of “lose” above. Otherwise, great article.

  7. @Sean
    Great points about the branding (and my inappropriate usage… my 7th grade English teacher is turning in her grave).

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