Google Maps for Android Well-Positioned for Mobile Commerce
Google Maps for Android 6.0 shows indoor footage of Macy's, Ikea, Mall of America and several airports. This positions Google well for targeting Android phone and tablet users with daily deals, retailer sales and other mobile commerce perks.Don't look now, but Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Maps for Android application just took a step toward e-commerce potential with the company's introduction of a feature that lets Android smartphone and tablet users see where they are and what's nearby in select malls, airports and retail stores.
Think of it as Google bringing its vast online mapping software tools, which to date have been used to graph both digital and real-world footage, indoors to help mobile device users get a handle on what's around them in large structures.
While this feature has miles to go before it's sufficiently stocked with business partners and users to enjoy the building layouts the Android app provides, it's not hard to see the ripe potential that exists for e-commerce opportunities. While Lee declined to comment on Google's specific plans, the company could integrate its new Business Photos capability, which uses Street View-style cameras to snap real-world photos of participating businesses that choose to share that information for Google's Places service. Business Photos provide 360-degree views of store decor and merchandise. Google could then overlay daily deals from Google Offers atop or next to store names in a mall. For malls that have loads of stores, or retailers such as Macy's that have eight-story buildings in San Francisco, Google might also include data on fresh sales from those stores to attract potential customers who happen to fire up the app. Consumers might even cash in on the deals or sales by paying for goods from phones or tablets enabled with Google's Wallet mobile payment service. The possible options for Google to leverage mobile commerce are many, agreed industry analyst Greg Sterling, who blogged about the new tool for Search Engine Land. "Lots of possibilities there," Sterling told eWEEK. "They wouldn't say anything, but I would agree that there will be a range of options, some of which they'd pursue." He noted that companies such as Point Inside, Micello and FastMall are already showing deals on maps. These startups could be acquired by Microsoft, Yahoo or others looking to challenge Google's latest Maps effort.