Google To Distribute Mobile Devices To Businesses For Checkins, Ratings And More
In an effort to compete with services like Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare, Google is preparing to distribute millions of custom mobile devices to small businesses around the U.S., says a source with knowledge of the program. These devices will allow customers to check-in and rate the businesses and perhaps even purchase items via Google Checkout. Eight million of the devices will be distributed, says the source.
Foursquare is a service that lets you "check-in" to a location via your mobile phone. It publicly publishes your physical location and tells all your friends (and everyone worldwide) where you are at the moment. It also has some gaming aspects. If you check-in to certain places you unlock "badges" and get points. People are already reviewing hostels on foursquare and it will increase...
Yelp is a business reviews website that also allows you to "check-in" with your mobile phone. Yelp also lets you push a button on your mobile phone and it will tell you where the best restaurants, cafes, or other businesses nearby you are. Google tried to buy Yelp a while ago.
The strange thing about Google's devices is, why would Google distribute physical devices when this kind of functionality doesn't need a device. I'm wondering if the device will automatically connect with Android phones so that Google can get the "check-in" data and serve ads whether you actively "check-in" to that location on your phone or not.