Over on our Local Media blog, we cover Google’s new “Hotpot” product. It essentially adds a social layer to local search, allowing users to connect to friends (Gmail contacts). Merchant ratings from you and your friends then govern personalized recommendations in search results.
This is a logical step for Google that joins a long line of recent improvements to local (read: Places). More so, it makes Google more competitive in an increasingly melding world of local, social and mobile. This of course includes Facebook Places and longstanding local stalwart Yelp.
But Hotspot could really shine in mobile. One its main access points will be Google Maps on Android handsets. Mobile is not only an area where Google continues to make large bets, but it’s also where users are more naturally inclined to share and access local recommendations.
The past 18 months have seen a fair amount of market experimentation to find the right formula of mobile, local and social. Hotpot looks like a competitive mixture of these components — all of which is of course boosted by Google’s reach, which is tantamount to network effect.
A deeper analysis of the product and its implications can be found on our main post.