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Local search heats up with Apple and Google ready to wage war

June 18, 2012

With a search engine, you search for the thing you want.

But what if you don’t really know what you want?

And what if you’re standing on a street corner looking for the thing you want? There you are, on vacation in New York City looking for the best restaurant in a 2 block radius. You could ask a random New Yorker, or you can ask your phone.

For now, the default tool is Google Maps, because Google Maps is a suggestion engine. So is BingFourSquare, and Yelp.

That is the marketplace Apple is jumping into. From the New York Times:

“Last week, Apple announced that in the fall its phones would no longer carry Google maps, but instead would have its own map service built-in, part of Apple’s new mobile operating system.”

Too me, this means Apple’s new map will include your community in the results. In a world where I can turn to Facebook and post “where can I get good thai”, and get suggestions, Apple will need to offer suggestions from the Internet, and from my corner of the Internet. Google already has a head start, using Google+ data to supplement search data. Last week, Google announced that Places are now Google+ places. Meaning brands can actively manage the results of Map searches.

So Apple has some catching up to do. I actually think Apple should buy FourSquare to get this data. Apple will need the ability to check in, and leave a social bread crumb trail for friends. Apple will need this social data to be a suggestion engine – which is more than just a search engine.

For our brand, that will mean enticing people to leave bread crumbs about Colgate in another place.

What do you think? Are you an iPhone user that loves Google Maps? Do you use Bing?

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