When it comes to the world of modern technologies, Google has a thriving grasp of almost every major division. However, there are two “areas for improvement”: local, where Google’s failed Groupon bid and lack of features make it a weak competitor, and social, where the crash of Google Buzz positioned the company in the worst possible ways. However, there’s one Google feature that does a lot to establish a greater foothold in both these arenas. That service is Hotpot, and Google’s most recent addition to this information rich service is the spread of Hotpot into 38 languages and search engines around the globe.
For those of you unfamiliar with Hotpot, the service is an evolution of Google Places. It adds image rich features and advanced rating systems to the local search aspect of Google. Few Google products, if any, have been released with such intensity; Google did a series of major release events in Portland, Oregon, and have followed this up with promotions across all other available channels. Several social features, including a “friends” component and business suggestions to friends rated highly, have been added since release. Further, Android phones that have Google Maps now automatically have a Hotpot widget that allows for easy local business location and rating.
The recent Google announcement shows the service spreading even further than before. First, the search engine results page will now contain suggested businesses (those rated highly by Hotpot friends) for any local searches. Second, the SERP suggestions and Hotpot itself are being spread to a global scale through translation into 38 languages. With a global scale, an even deeper focus on friends, and a strong company focus, there’s no doubt that Hotpot is one of the up-and-coming features for Google for 2011.