Last week saw the introduction of the first Android phone, the G1 handset for T-Mobile. It’s a cool piece of hardware and software that should appeal to many. But is it really an iPhone competitor? And is that why we should care? No and no, but care we should.
Here are sampling of the headlines from major news organizations in the U.S. and UK:
•Google’s Android could smash iPhone’s locked gateway – guardian.co.uk
•Google vs. iPhone: Is Steve Jobs Reliving Past Mistakes? – time.com
•Google Introduces an iPhone Rival Open to Whims – NYTimes.com
•Google takes swipe at Apple’s iPhone – London timesonline.co.uk
Google isn’t competing with the iPhone in this endeavor. They are competing with every manufacture that doesn’t yet offer a full mobile internet experience and for customers that don’t have an iPhone and want that browsing experience on their cell. That means that companies that are not providing that like Microsoft and Nokia are the ones that Google is up against not Apple. As Greg Sterling points out, the smart phones are risk here are those running Windows Mobile, Palm and Symbian phones. Here is a great summary of smart phone market.
The G1 will have a positive affect on mobile browsing in general and on Local in particular. If not now with T-Mobile than going forward. It is a phone that makes search the center of the user experience and that can only bode well for Local and location based. Like the iPhone, websites will not need to be completely rebuilt and users can have a full internet experience with great local search.
From where I sit, phones like the G1 AND the iPhone will drive us towards the fully functional mobile future, not as competitors but as inflexion points in a dynamic market.
Google has formally announced Maps.Google.com/Vote that I covered in mid September.
In addition to offering voting information and polling places (coming October 15) via Maps they are making the maplet available as a widget for your website via a their Gadget creator:
As I mentioned in my earlier post, this type of mash up of deep local data with Maps offers an inkling of type of local data that will be presented on a national scale that we will be seeing over the next 12 to 18 months. It will be exciting times indeed for local.
Google, in upgrading Google Blog search, has created an intriguing potential competitor to Techmeme. The upgraded search provides broad blog coverage, picks up stories quickly and has the potential to project blog content more widely. ReadWriteWeb noted:
The new Google Blogsearch has the potential to reach tens of millions of people and drive insane amounts of traffic.
Whether that is true for local blogs is yet to be seen. There is however a feature that highlights blog by major search terms. This could have an a positive traffic impact for hyperlocal blogs as it emphasizes blogs related to primary geo search phrases:
Earlier today when I had read that Podesta Baldocchi Florist’s listing had returned to normal in the Local 10 Pack, I had assumed that Google had cleaned up the mess and removed the offending listings from Maps.
Not so fast pardner! It seems two weeks isn’t quite long enough to purge these fellows. A number of listings are still in the index from the hijacking entity. They still show as well on the Local 10 Pack on the search Flowers Brooklyn NY. Amazing the difficulty that Google has in purging the database of listings engaged in apparently criminal activity. If this activity doesn’t warrant a full and complete ban from Maps, I don’t know what does.
9/25/08 9:30 pm Google has removed the deceptive listing and returned Kalman Belli Florist to the 10 Pack. This was reported into Google Groups earlier today by the owner.
9/24/08 10:00 pm Google has yet to remove this hijacked listing and restore the original florist to their position in the Local 10-Pack.
9/21/08- Remnants of last week’s floral hijackings are still showing in the Local 10-Pack:
Here is a Groups correspondence from one of the affected merchants:
The only guarantee against having a business listing hijacked in Google Maps has been for a listing owner to control their listing in the Local Business Center. The only way to be ranked well in Maps is for that same business to control their listing in the Local Business Center. The many blogs covering local have said time and again, take control of the listing in the Local Business Center.
It is a message that makes sense given how Google has designed the system. It is a message from Google that is clear and which Google keeps repeating. Yet I fear that we and Google are preaching to the converted.
Even businesses that want to take control of their listing and are motivated to do so are often stymied. Prior to last week’s hijacking debacle I was corresponding with a locksmith who contended that his listing had been hijacked.
I was trying to document the locksmith’s situation so I made repeated efforts attempting to get him to confirm to me that he had claimed his record in the LBC. I was unable to do so. He just didn’t get what I was asking him, no matter how many ways and times I asked. In his mind he had claimed the record but he could not tell me exactly how or where. I came away convinced that he simply edited is record using Google’s end user edit capability and returned to it regularly to correct any nefarious edits.
This posting in Google Groups confirmed my suspicions that many, motivated business owners are completely incapable of making their way into the Local Business Center (even when they think they have):
In response to the many changes that Google has made of late in Maps, Google is once again surveying some Map users (Survey URL) with questions as to speed of the service, quality of data and customer service level satisfaction. If the survey is unavailable at the link above you can view this PDF of the survey.
When Google upgraded Maps with the blueline upgrade in late July, they temporarily lost the abililty to allow easy rerouting of their directions. That loss led to an avalanche of small business complaints from companies that were using Google for daily routing of their vehicles. The most recent change to using TeleAtlas has led to a new series of complaints from SMB’s using Google’s routing noting that whole locations (not just the functionality) have been lost.
Has anyone seen Union County NC? That’s the question a small business owner outside of Charlotte, NC is asking of Google after their recent change to using TeleAtlas mapping data.
In this posting to Google Groups, this small business person, using Google Map’s routing, is complaining that the data necessary for his daily routing task is either missing or unusable due to its age. I wonder how he would answer the survey?:
Last week’s reports of hijackings of legitimate business listings in Maps highlighted wide spread abuse of both Google’s community edit AND the reviews feature. In addition to hijacking listings, the affiliate spammers have been rapidly adding bogus reviews. Most IYP sites have a rapid response to such activities and will quickly pull down a bogus review in response to a business owner. NOT GOOGLE!
This posting in the Groups highlights the issue (and provides plenty of fodder for the curmudgeon in me):
Last week, Google announced that they were switching over Google Maps data from NavTeq to TeleAtlas. At the time they noted that “there may also be some cases where the data may not be optimal”.
With Google’s rapid switch over to TeleAtlas and Google’s high visibility these reports of missing streets are likely to increase over the next several weeks as these problems with TeleAtlas’ data are uncovered. As Miriam Ellis points out on her blog, this missing Map’s data can cause incredible marketing problems to the small business that experiences it.
There are reports starting to flow into Google Groups of this being the case. What should you do if this happens to you or one of your clients?
Google has often made their technology available to encourage and support voting. In that vein, it seems likely that Google Maps will soon provide a new Google created mapplet with comprehensive voter information.
The site, currently visible at the url: http://maps.google.com/vote, will provide voting location, registration information and more. Apparently the data set is not yet loaded as the site notes: All voting location information will be available by mid-October. Until then, please check with your state or local election officials to verify your voting location.
It is likely that this project started out as a Google 20% project but given the finished look and feel has obviously become fully supported. Being able to generate a driving map for each potential voter to every polling place offers incredible benefit to every “get out the vote” organization particularly smaller ones that might not have the resources to gather this information. Rolling this out on a national scale is an intriguing example of deep local data collection and how that information can possibly affect outcomes on a larger stage. It points to a time when having in-depth local data will fundamentally change the way that the web is used.
On another, possibly related note, a reader pointed out the domain GoogleVote.com that sports the Google Vote logo above.