2010/01/08

Google's Near Me Now (Planetary Edition)

from Data Mining: Text Mining, Visualization and Social Media by Matthew Hurst

Google's Near Me Now (Planetary Edition)

The blogosphere is abuzz with reports of Google's Near Me Now feature which provides mobile searchers with a very quick route to local search results organized by category (coffee shop, ATM, what have you). Going for the bus this morning, I thought I would give it a try, so I enabled the various pieces on my iPhone so that Google could locate me, then asked for near-me-now ATMs and Banks. The results I got back on the SERP looked pretty reasonable. I was impressed to see that they got the nesting of some establishments correct (there is a bank inside the Whole Foods for example). Sweet.

The UI is very nice - it shows up on the main mobile entry page.

But - then I hit the 'map all results' button. What I found was a set of results that weren't only spread over the US (hits in multiple states), but also in Europe (Denmark and France) and Australia. Being a forgiving person by nature, I tried again, this time from the bus and for coffee shops, not banks. Again, I found results on the map which were over the US and outside.

Now, readers of this blog will be familiar with my style of opinion-disguised-as-data-driven-analyis, but on this point I'm confounded. My first 2 interactions with this new feature showed serious problems. In addition, and this is what really gets me, all the link love that other blogs are giving to this feature (at least those exposed by TechMeme) don't seem to have cottoned on to this issue.

To be somewhat objectve, I just ran the ATM query again from my office and found these results on the map:

  • Bankwest: 108, St. Georges Tce, Perth WA 6000 Australia
  • Bankwest ATM: 119 Lamington St New Farm QLD 4005 Australia
  • Dresdner Bank Filiale Jungfernstieg: Jungfernstieg 22, 20354 Hamburg, Germany
  • Les Nuits De La Citadelle: Rue de la Saunerie 04200 Sisteron France
  • etc.

To be clear: all the interactions except the mapping are great. The mapping shows serious problems with something in the product.

Perhaps Inigo Montoya might have an opinion about the word 'near':

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Posted via web from Traction Lobe