Friday, December 18, 2009

Will Google invade the local business environment too?

Following a link from Buzz Machine, an article on TechCrunch details how Google are in negotiations to buy the IT business directory company Yelp. Yelp have a UK operation too, here's their Nairn Page. It lists 333 entries for Nairn. Yelp is an interactive site, you can leave reviews on local businesses. Individual entries for businesses give you contact details complete with a google map and invite you to review the business. Business owners are invited to claim their page. If this operation hooks up with google it could become quite formidable. As blogger Jeff Jarvis states on Buzz Machine:

'Google is ready to make an assault on local with its Place Pages and QR codes on local establishments and augmented maps and directions and mobile…. This turf was newspapers’ and phone companies’ to lose and lose it, they will.'

In a few years time, or even much sooner than that, could almost all information about local businesses come to us through a google run operation. As individual members of communities we could comment on the goods and services offered to us but would we lose a measure of control as to how we could present ourselves to the world. As a customer would you use the google/yelp pages to comment on how your holiday went in Nairn or go to the more local site that would be locally controlled and more accountable?

The changes to our way of life that the the Internet has brought so far are far from over.

UPDATE: Sunday

A little more information about how all this might work according to techcrunch:

'What if every store had a bar-code sticker on its window so that you could pull out your iPhone, wave it in front of the bar code and get all sorts of information about that business—the telephone number, photos, customer reviews? Starting on Monday, you’ll be able to do that at up to 190,000 local businesses throughout the U.S.'

Yelp would be the ideal supplement for the Google business and place pages and would also have a social element. When that comes to Scotland would any business want to be left out? More information on techcrunch and Buzz Machine.


Anonymous said...

I think that Yelp would have to be updated on a regular basis for anyone to take any real notice of it. There are businesses listed in Nairn that stopped trading about the time that Mafeking was relieved.

Perhaps that highlights one of the inherent weaknesses of the internet - once data is on there, it tends to stay there, no matter how out of date or irrelevant it is.

Michael Macintyre seems to have a good grasp of the concept of 'reviews'

" Toasters are reviewed on Amazon.

Who are these people?

You want to buy a toaster, you go online and start reading reviews.

Who in their right mind goes, "I better review the toaster"? "Settings 2-6 are an embarrassment. "What kind of a pop do you call that?

I couldn't grab it! "I had to risk my life and do it with a knife."

Graisg said...

'I think that Yelp would have to be updated on a regular basis for anyone to take any real notice of it'
At present yes, but if it were integrated into the google operation then millions of people would take notice of it simply because of that and businesses too would then have to decide whether it was worth ignoring it.

Anonymous said...

Hard to beat the Nairnshire for local business details. Unlike Yelp, Yellow pages, Business Directories etc you can assume that the firms that advertise are a) still in business b) are looking for customers
Nairn is still small enough to ask your relative, neighbour, friend, work colleague for recommendations.
Just as it is sometimes more effective to make a phone call rather than email, on line services are sometimes just not as good as more traditional information sources.