When Eric Schmidt eluded to Google.me comprising of social layers rather than a full blow social network , many in the industry wondered as to how this would manifest itself within the Googlesphere. Very much the layers of an onion we are slowly starting to see the Google layers starting to unravel, layer by layer.
With the launch of Hotpot, we are seeing the first forays by Google into the local social environment, a domain often associated with the likes of Foursquare and Facebook.
The premise of Hotpot is very simple – personalised results influenced by what you – and your friends like. Unlike similar locational tools such from Facebook and Foursquare, Hotpot is less about where you are and more about what you like. Hotpot uses Google Places data and overlays reviews and ratings from you and your friends. It recommends places based on how you’ve rated similar things. Might it eventually be merged with Google’s other location, social, and other services to provide a robust Foursquare-like experience? That would seem logical but for now at least, it’s entirely separate and in my opinion possibly a little too far removed.
Further delving into the Hotpot experience I felt was similarly underwhelming. Yes there is a degree of personalisation to this, however I cant’t help feeling stopped short of a robust social tool, that would appeal to the wider public. As with other review based services on Google, reviews are pulled from a number of different sites, so the opportunity for significant exploitation from the likes of me and the majority of readers of the blog would appear to be fairly limited. That said, one would suggest this could provide a scalable opportunity to develop ones social and brand campaigns in order to integrate these key review sites or alternatively provide the opportunity for new authority review sites.
This would also seem to be the first of many Google related tools I have started seeing out in the either. Google affiliated sites such as
- Ventures such as homeaway
appear to becoming more and more commonplace, and one would only suggest there may be more and more of these Google assets popping up should we start looking at Google’s recent acquisition trail.
I have to say, my first impressions of Hotpot were not particularly favourable. It still has a heck of a long way to go to become anything that could become heavily mainstream, and would appear to lack the clarity of thought of integrated offerings from the like of Facebook. Whether or not this is another example of half thought through ideas in response to competitor activity (lets face it Facebook were in the middle of announcing improvements to their offering) – or another complex layer is still to be seen. However I would suggest that without significant further investment its only going to go the same way as other duds such as Wave…..
If you would like to know more about Hotpot, Vanessa Fox has done a fantastic write up on the Search Engine Land site.