For Google, the future is most certainly around the convergence of social, mobile, and location.
In the Friday keynote, Google’s VP of consumer products Marissa Mayer took the stage to tell us something we’re all starting to understand –location is everything. Building on the 150 million mobile users that Google Maps currently enjoys, Google has been rolling out location-based services for the past year. While some may think we don’t really need another location service – we have Foursquare, Yelp, Gowalla already penetrating the market – Google’s approach is to simplify, and that might be the differentiator.
Mayer kicked off her talk by demonstrating what they’re doing with Google Maps for Mobile. 3D navigation, a fast application that brings up 3D renderings of buildings (think Google Street View for mobile), and an improved navigation feature that routes drivers around traffic. She displayed stats that indicate the route-around feature saves users 2 years per day – time that would have been spent in traffic. Something that will appeal to everyone, no doubt.
Google Hotpot is their Yelp-like feature that allows users to review and read recommendations. It went public last November, and they already have 3 million user ratings. The interface is perfectly Google – simple and user-friendly.
Looking forward, the Google Geo team, which Mayer heads up, has been exploring ideas around what else they can do with 3D, and with “contextual discovery”. Semantic technology is a logical next step for location-based services. As an example, she imagined how adding context to the items on her calendar combined with smarter maps would result in better information with which we could all make better choices.
Be sure to check out our Mediabeat chat with Marissa Mayer from earlier this year here.
Kirsten Cluthe, the author of this post, is a consultant with The Frontier Project and a mediabistro contributor.