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Google says, “It’s the applications, stupid!”

Google is being so intensely aggressive on the local search side that there is no denying that local search is the play of the future. With the continued proliferation of smartphones feeding information to people whenever and wherever they want it, attention now turns to the applications. It is always about the applications. Why do you think Microsoft was able to become what it is? Was it because they made the best hardware? No. They made NO hardware. They made the hardware of others functional (and commoditized). Google is doing the very same thing, but they look like they are doing it from both sides of the fence.

What does that mean you ask? Well, take for instance the new service that Google is experimenting with for their local business listings. Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land writes:

I received a tip from a New York retailer named Oh Nuts, that Google came to their store to take pictures for a new Google Maps product named “Google Store Views.” I was told that they took pictures of the inside of the store, every 6 feet, in all directions. They also took pictures of products.

Google Store Views will allow people to essentially walk into the store from Google Street Views. So imagine you are looking at this store, and then you can click on the door to enter it, all on Google Maps. Then when you enter the store, you can walk through it.
The picture below shows the Google camera person taking their pictures.
Google Camera.jpg
So back to the whole device and application talk. This week Google also rolled out a service that allows searches run on your desktop while logged into your Google account to transfer to your mobile device automatically. Pretty cool, right? Well, there is one caveat: it only works on Android phones. You see Google is drawing the battle lines and they are right between headquarters facilities in Mountain View, CA (Google) and Cupertino, CA (Apple).
Imagine the iPhone owner that uses many of the Google apps but cannot get full available functionality of these critical apps—just a watered down version—because they are not on an Android device. They may do as I am doing. I am moving to an Android phone ASAP (goodbye BlackBerry Storm!) but also carrying an iPod Touch so I can have the neat iPhone apps and games as well.
The phone, however, is my lifeblood. If I want to be mobile and use my Google apps for my business I am not going to sacrifice functionality for cool. I need to be productive. This is where Google may actually have Apple over a barrel. If they do, it will be the same kind of song that Apple heard forever as Microsoft took over the desktop PC world and relegated Apple initially for designer types and the “cool kids.”
Well, I am now old enough to understand that cool only goes so far. I need functionality that makes sense, and Google makes sense. If they are only going to make these things work great on an Android device, then I know where I am headed. Good luck, Apple. I am a dedicated MacBook Pro user and will be for as long as it makes sense, but the iPhone is not in my future.

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