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Google isn't going to let a little failed purchase of Yelp get in the way of its expansion into local mobile advertising. The search giant today added "Near Me Now" fuctionality to the iPhone.

And while results may not be thorough today, Google is providing plenty of incentive to small businesses to sign up with Google local and help the search engine achieve the kind of dominance in local that it has mastered online.

Google has been able to track users' location information with smartphones for awhile, making it easy to give users a heads up about what's going on nearby. And now there's apparently a handy button to help users find locations around them on the mobile homepage (though I can't see it on my phone right now). Users can “explore right here" to find a list of local businesses — of a wide variety that Google estimates are nearby to their exacy location.

According to the Google Mobile blog:

"First, we wanted to make it fast and easy to find out more about a place in your immediate vicinity, whether you're standing right in front of a business or if it's just a short walk away. Second, we wanted to make searching for popular categories of nearby places really simple. Imagine that you emerge from the subway station and you want to grab a coffee, but you don't see a coffee shop around you. You can simply search for all nearby coffee shops by using 'Near me now.'"

There's also this explanatory video (if you can handle the cheesy background music):

The Google Yelp deal was valued at $750 million before it all fell apart last month. But while Yelp's local data would have been a boon to Google's local Favorite Places efforts, this tiny tweak is just a bit of evidence proving how easily Google can go into local alone. 

Even if the data is not exact, local restaurants and businesses should be jumping at the chance to get into those results. While online searchers are exceedingly picky about what they're looking for, mobile users are often in a rush and looking for a quick fix. So while someone may not choose to go to some random local pizza place just because it showed up in an online search, if s/he is leading a group of ten around an unknown city and needs a place to eat, those priorities change pretty quickly.

As the mobile ad market grows in leaps and bounds, whoever has the most reliable results for real-time location aware information will have a huge leg up. With Google's purchase of AdMob in November for $750 million and Apple's recent Quattro acquisition, the mobile market is expected to be $13 billion by 2013.

And while local niche businesses like Yelp, Foursquare and Loopt may specialize in having the most thorough and useful information on venues in any given city, Google has the benefit of ubiquity. Consumers used to Googling online are likely to go to that search engine on their phones to get local info (especially when it's the default).

While results may not be incredibly useful today, Google is sure to improve them in coming iterations of mobile search. Together with the new QR code enabled stickers that Google is providing to its pre-approved "Favorite Places" businesses, the search giant is providing plenty incentive to ensure that local businesses sign up to use its mobile services — and help it achieve search dominance there as well.

Image: Google

Meghan Keane

Published 8 January, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

721 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Vincent Amari

Vincent Amari, Online Consultancy at Business Foresights Ltd

Smart move by Google IMO.

By the way, you may want to revise you 1st sentence:

"Google isn't going to let a little failed purchase of Yelp get in the way"

over 6 years ago

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Kent

This is a cool post!

over 6 years ago

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RaleighSiding

This sounds like something that can be very beneficial for my type of business.  I will definitely be on the look out for results of this move

over 6 years ago

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RaleighSiding

One question, perhaps someone can answer for me is how much is involved in making my website mobile?

over 6 years ago

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Keith

What if you could take a picture of the pub or pizza place you're standing outside with your mates with you're phone and then send it to Google 'near me now' and it comes back with a list of reviews, how cool would that be?

over 6 years ago

Meghan Keane

Meghan Keane, US Editor at Econsultancy

Keith, That's the idea behind Favorite Places. Any store in Google's database will be equipped with a QR code that will provide that info when scanned with a smarphone.

over 6 years ago

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Dr. Eckard Ritter

This will work even better with mobile websites linked to the application

about 6 years ago

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