Google Aug. 19 announced that more than 100 million people per month are using its Google Maps application from a mobile phone to get directions and find local businesses.
The news about Google Maps for mobile came one day after Facebook unveiled its Places application, and many believe Google’s trumpeting of user numbers is no coincidence.
Facebook Places is a Web service that lets users check in and alert their friends to their location.
Users access Facebook Places from a Facebook for iPhone application or from the touch.facebook.com mobile Website via browsers that support HTML5 and geolocation.
Google Maps for Mobile includes services such as My Location and Latitude, which helps people find themselves and their friends’ present location on Google Maps.
But Google Maps for Mobile also includes tools to let local businesses advertise on Google, which is where Google may butt heads with Facebook over time.
Google Place Pages include info about local businesses, including specific store details and ratings and reviews contributed by patrons. Place Pages are supported by the Google Places ad service that helps local businesses attract customers through Google Maps.
The company added a Places icon to Google Maps for Android 4.4, and Google Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra said it’s having an impact.
“With this latest Android version, we’re happy to see that you’re now searching for places almost three times as often, doubling how many Place Pages are seen a day,” Gundotra said.
So, Google Places is about letting businesses advertise themselves to consumers. Facebook Places is about helping users share their location in the off-chance they have friends in the neighborhood.
Facebook has yet to unveil advertising or any revenue plans for Facebook Places.
But if Foursquare can lure business partners such as Starbucks with check-ins for its network of 2.7 million users, imagine the retailer and service provider accounts Facebook can hook up with its massive network of 500 million users when it’s ready.
And that will create a major threat to Google as the companies vie for the attention of more mobile Web users.