Google just released a new platform for their Places technology called Hotpot. This release yields a more user friendly interface for search, one that’s not-so-suspiciously formatted for mobile consumption.
This tool allows you to search for local businesses in a fashion very similar to Yelp and Foursquare. The traditional Places listings are now presented in a social fashion, presenting us with multiple options to personalize the experience. You can choose to save a listing for later, choose “not interested,” see the average rating the place received and view your rating.
While this system is much more integrated socially, Google has been having a difficult time convincing Facebook to lend them their data. This is a major disadvantage as Yelp! offers full Facebook integrationand 20% of Foursquare users push their data to Facebook. Without this information, Google must rely on Hotpot users creating a Google Profile and adding other friends with profiles.
Friends can then be suggested via your Gmail contact list and anyone you add will be notified. Eventually, the hope is that with enough custom content from you and your friends, Hotpot serves as a social suggester for any business you search. With the failing Google Wave and Buzz both relying on the same social aggregation, will Hotpot’s integration be more successful?
Regardless of how successful Hotpot is, its release is yet another reason why businesses need to ensure their Google Places listing is accurate. Hotpot focuses even more on user reviews, displaying your ratings and reviews count at the top of the page. If Google can mitigate their collective action problem and get users to interact with Hotpot like they do Foursquare, Hotpot definitely has the opportunity to become a powerful tool.