Google to hand out devices to local businesses

Recently Techcrunch had a piece on Google giving away 8M devices to local businesses to facilitate checkins, reviews and more…Now to be honest, I actually had a little insider info about his coming down the Google pike. Now that I have had the time to process all the info, following are my thoughts:

1. This device could be

  • A customer-facing  tablet kind of device running android with build-in integration of Google places for reviews and checkins
  • A device to verify your location (ala ShopKick) so that users running a Google app on their phone or other devices can easily receive notifications (key), do checkins, validate coupons and write reviews. Something like this would be pretty cool but might require some standards work to get it working across different devices
  • A device that not only enables user interaction but also allows businesses to run business apps like POS apps etc. on Google infrastructure

2. At the end of the day, this move by Google is about getting more data. Google is really worried about Facebook getting all the user/local data because of FB apps and they want to distribute these devices (they will be expensive to send and maintain) to get some of this data.

3. The important point here is what is in it for local businesses? I think they will be able to see much richer data on their own customers and Google will share the data they collect with each of the merchants.

4. The Apps delivered via such a device could be really powerful as these apps will enable Google to get their hands on the all important sales/market basket data. Businesses won’t mind as the traditional business apps are old and expensive to buy and maintain. If Google can deliver these apps cheaply and easily, it would be powerful.

All in all this looks like a huge gamble on part of Google (could be over several billion dollars worth), but might be justified given the size of the market we are talking about. Still though not having a social graph will likely handicap Google in making sense of this data because  most of the local business customers are driven by word-of-mouth.

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34 thoughts on “Google to hand out devices to local businesses

    • Indus,

      Good to hear from you.

      The hardware option has always been open but most companies avoid it because of the huge distribution costs and even bigger maintenance costs.

      The fact that Google is taking this option indicates two things:
      – Local market is huge (~60% of all money spent is spent in 2mile radius of peoples homes)
      – Google is desperate … Facebook is really well positioned with their places release to have the best user data on local business and this is Googles answer to try and salvage something.

      Let’s see how it works out…

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