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The quest for inner space — Google’s Floor Plan

Google launched its controversial product, Floor Plan, this week on the Android mobile platform to much cheering from those who are easily lost in big, labyrinth type places. A few sceptics of the product have already jumped on the “Streetview is an end to our privacybandwagon but most of the PR around the launch of the product has centred around convenience with Search Engine Land going on to ask “How did I live without this?”

A few of the big names in the US retail game like Ikea, Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Home Depot have put their faith in the product and they’re not the only ones as Chicago Airport and the Japanese Transit routes are also included. Google has even launched a nifty tool so that smaller business owners can upload their floorplans and be included in the application’s database.

One of the big influencers in this move is Marissa Mayer: the homepage darling of Google, who moved to the “Local” division of Google a year ago. Her mission is to make Google and its products “hyperlocal” and relevant on a location-based level. She’s got some awesome tools to do it with: Maps, Streetview, Android, Google+ and the mashup between the products. One feels Google+ will have the upper hand in the local game when it begins to integrate the data from the Maps API.

Speaking of “mashups” and the Maps API: Google’s anticipating the “maps rush” by starting to charge for the usage of its API. We could possibly see big names in retail having to find the budget to service the demand.

Thor Mitchell, The Google Maps API Product Manager, adds: “”We understand that the introduction of these limits may be concerning, however, with continued growth in adoption of the Maps API, we need to secure its long-term future by ensuring that even when used by the highest volume for-profit sites, the service remains viable.” It’s becoming clear that Google is anticipating massive growth in the usage of the Maps API especially as Android (with its phenomenal growth) will be accessing it a lot more frequently.

Another monetisation idea, especially in big shopping malls, is to have the digital shop front “clickable” in the map so that users get access to the retailer’s site, but also to the Google Offers product which supplies users with discounts and coupons for their favourite retailers. This is how Google will start to compete with location-based retail services like Foursquare: by providing a useful location-based mapping tool and combining it with a special offer.

Innovative companies like The GigaPixel Fancam are already starting to make online photos of stadia and events clickable so that companies can brand the space, how long is it before we see Google do the same?

Author | Graeme Lipschitz: Columnist

Graeme Lipschitz: Columnist
Graeme Lipschitz is the co-founder of digital innovation agency Wonderland Works where he heads up Social Media, Search and Product Development. He was previously the business development manager at Clicks2Customers.com and has worked for Google UK and South Africa as a lead account strategist, growing Adwords accounts in the... More
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