Telecom service providers have been fighting a losing battle in the location game thus far, despite attempts to make the network (and not GPS or some “check-in” game) the source of user location data. But if they need proof that they are going to face significant challenges in this important market, consider this: Google has put Marissa Mayer, one of its top and earliest execs, in charge of its “local and location” business.
Bloomberg has the details:
Google, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, is putting more focus on local businesses and location services as it looks for areas of growth outside traditional Internet searches. The effort may help the company get more advertising from neighborhood stores and restaurants. More than 90 percent of the company’s revenue comes from online ads.
Mayer designed and developed the company’s search interface and expanded the site to more than 100 languages, according to Google. She has helped introduce more than 100 features and products on the site, including a faster Web search last month called Instant that gives users results as they type in queries.
In some ways, Google is as strong as ever. But its lack of blockbuster successes in social media and to some extent location has the company searching for answers.
At the same time, the company has made significant inroads in mobile/location, largely due to the success of its Android operating system. With the Apple iPhone and upcoming Windows Phone 7 largely positioned as media consumption devices, Android is unique for its focus (some would say limited by its focus) on the phone as a search-based device, including location-based search.
So while Google doesn’t have an answer for Foursquare or Facebook today, it perhaps has something better: control over countless smartphone-driven searches that are “location-based” by their very nature.