Google Location-Based Services through Google Places

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Written on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 by Giorgos Saslis

Google's actions have long stated how keen they are to take over the mobile (internet) world. Mobile is the next desktop and Google are very intent to be part of this switch. 

More and more services that started off as desktop apps are now web applications. The next step for them is going mobile, whether that means through mobile applications - and already many of them have iPhone apps - or mobile websites. And I'm sure mobile apps (be it Java, iPhone, Android ) and websites are the natural way we will see things evolve. 

Google's latest announcement is about a location-based service, through a Google Maps-type service: Google Places. This is available from your desktop as a web-app, but seeing as you might be looking for some 'place' when you're out and about, Google are giving you ways to access the service through your mobile too.

And Google have good reason to do so (from the Google Blog post):
One out of five searches on Google are related to location, and we want to make sure that businesses are able to be found and put their best foot forward. We’re excited to announce Google Places today, as it’s just the beginning of what’s to come from our efforts to make Google more local.
And Google are giving some real incentive for businesses to input their info:
We're also introducing several new features:
  • Service areas: If you travel to serve customers, you can now show which geographic areas you serve. And if you run a business without a storefront or office location, you can now make your address private.
  • A new, simple way to advertise: For just $25 per month, businesses in select cities can make their listings stand out on Google.com and Google Maps with Tags. As of today, we’re rolling out Tags to three new cities — Austin, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. — in addition to ongoing availability in Houston and San Jose, CA. In the coming weeks we'll also be introducing Tags in Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Boulder and San Francisco.
  • Business photo shoots: In addition to uploading their own photos, businesses in select cities can now request a free photo shoot of the interior of their business which we'll use to supplement existing photos of businesses on Place Pages. We've been experimenting with this over the past few months, and now have created a site for businesses to learn more and express their interest in participating.
  • Customized QR codes: From the dashboard page of Google Places, businesses in the U.S. can download a QR code that’s unique to their business, directly from their dashboard page. QR codes can be placed on business cards or other marketing materials, and customers can scan them with certain smartphones to be taken directly to the mobile version of the Place Page for that business.
  • Favorite Places: We're doing a second round of our Favorite Places program, and are mailing window decals to 50,000 businesses around the U.S. These decals include a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to directly view the mobile Place Page for the business to learn more about their great offerings.
Over the past few months we've also added the ability for business owners to post real-time updates to their Place Page. You might want to promote a sale, a special event or anything else that you want customers to know right now, and this feature lets you communicate that directly to your customers. You can also provide extra incentive by adding coupons, including ones specially formatted for mobile phones.
I think Google Places are going to be making a lot more headlines as soon as more and more businesses realise the potential and start participating. Let's just see...


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