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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Will free long distance service accelerate adoption?

I and others (see Bill Slawski’s posts) have lamented the step child stature of Google Maps and Google’s apparent unwillingness to push it out to the consumer. It has always seemed to be such a valuable service that was hidden away and hard to find. Greg Sterling talked of the difficulties with the Coupon feature. I have noted how hard it is for a business to find their way into the Local Business Center. The Google Maps new Click to Call feature may be the feature that signals the tipping point in its adoption.

My wife makes frequent business calls to Canada and they are expensive even though we are only 80 miles from the border. So I checked to see if the Click to Call feature would help us out. It doesn’t. Google doesn’t provide the feature on Canadian listings. However, it dawned on me that they are essentially providing free long distance calling for business to business calls in the continental U.S. This feature could save me almost $20/month on my Verizon Freedom Calling Package.

Here is Matt McGee’s read on adoption. He thinks that the average user will be slow to pick this up. I would contend that there is now a compelling business argument, at least smaller businesses will adopt this technology. I would agree that it will not initially find broad “consumer” adoption but that if they can get businesses looking at Google Maps they will drive adoption in a number of ways:

-It will bring participation from a core audience that will drive Google Local success long term: the small business owner.

-It will familiarize them with the interface and perhaps encourage them to engage with Coupons and the Listing Center

-It will spread the word about Google Maps within these businesses and their employees.

-When coupled with the new Mobile Map functionality (See Walt Mossburg WSJ 11/15/06) it increases the likelihood of adoption from synergy.

Now there is a strategy to accelerate adoption!

P.S Here are some good comments about the possible downfalls and strengths of the technology and here are some interesting comments by Donna Bogatin on the possible motivations of Google