Just a couple weeks after failing to consummate a rumored deal to buy Yelp, Google has launched a mobile search tool that could take away the mobile market share of Yelp and similar sites/apps like Urbanspoon, MapQuest, and some of the yellow pages apps.
It’s called “Near Me Now,” and Google previewed it last month — but it was overshadowed by the “cool factor” of other things announced that day, like Google Goggles. Near Me Now lets users search what’s around them at any moment without needing to speak or enter any search terms. You have to let your iPhone or Android browser send your location to Google, and if my testing is correct, you also have to be logged in to your Google account. Once that’s in place, “Near Me Now” shows up as a new link on the Google.com mobile home page.
Clicking the link brings up a layer of local search … well, local discovery options such as Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Bars, and more.
The primary option is “Explore right here,” and clicking that brings up a list of local businesses — of all categories and varities — that Google believes is in the same place as you.
Clicking any one of the listings on that page leads to the business’s mobile place page, where you can get whatever information Google knows about that business.
As I said above, this functionality isn’t new. There are countless apps and tools that provide location-based information. Yelp and Urbanspoon obviously have great traction, but none of them have the overall mindshare and marketshare that Google has. The question is: Will users abandon the apps they love for Google’s browser-based version of the same thing?