I’ve been very restrained when it comes to saying this or that product launch is a fill-in-the-blank “killer.” I generally don’t believe in that sort of hyperbole, nor does it often turn out to be the case in actuality. However . . .
I now believe that the combination of things that Google is doing in local — and with mobile in particular — makes Google a much bigger threat to Yelp than it has been in the past. I think it’s less true on the PC side however.
The addition of a friend layer to local through Hotpot — and it remains to be seen whether Hotpot takes off — combined with Google’s revamped Places app and overall integration (especially on Android) with Maps and directions make Google an increasingly formidable player in local-mobile.
Yelp has a very strong and trusted brand. However the mobile experience on Yelp can sometimes be a bit cumbersome. You can also only start/draft reviews in mobile. But the era of the long narrative review, which helped differentiate Yelp from competitors and which makes it such a rich content source, may be declining. Facebook Like data and star ratings with tips that help produce ranked lists may begin to take over.
What people on the go mostly want (unless they’re looking in a high consideration category) is a quick and trusted way to make decisions about where to eat and what to do. Yelp has lots of tools to aid local search and discovery in mobile and for the most part Google doesn’t match those. But Google’s local-mobile assets are quickly becoming very good.
There’s enormous “gravitational force” building around Google with all the things it’s doing on the handset. It also totally “owns” Android. Unless they’re fantastic I think that over time there will be fewer and fewer local apps that can compete with Google on the Android platform. It has much less of a grip on the iPhone by comparison.
What do you think? Do you think Yelp will be able to hold its own or eventually be overwhelmed by Google as it devotes more attention and resources to local?