One of the questions that came up after the formal launch of Facebook Places last night was: how will this affect Google Places (among others)? As an aside, I have to say it’s really strange that these products have nearly the identical name. It’s almost like Honda offering a car with a particular name and then Toyota coming out with a car with the same model name.
Of course Google Places and Facebook Places are currently different animals from a consumer perspective. You don’t “check in” to Google Places. But Google has other products that perform a similar function (Latitude, Buzz) that it may feel compelled to merge into Google Places at some point. Facebook’s long anticipated move into location does, I think, put some pressure on Google to “socialize” its Places in one or more ways.
However from a local business standpoint the two Places are conceptually if not practically quite similar. Local businesses can claim their Places pages on both sites and use them as promotional tools in several ways. I’m not going to enumerate the relative merits or practical aspects of this comparison here; I’ll leave that for another article or articles plural.
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