Google is keenly interested in location data, and it seems like its work in maps and location is paying off, particularly on mobile phones. Google Maps on mobile devices, which makes up about 40 percent of all Google Maps usage, is on pace to eclipse desktop usage for the first time next month, said Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of maps and local today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. It already happens on some weekends but the permanent shift to mobile is now poised to happen really soon.
The company has also hit 200 million installs of Google Maps on mobile devices, said Mayer. The number highlights Google’s strength in location especially in regards to mobile devices, which is benefitting from the rise of Android devices.
“Desktop apps will be important but maps on the phone that knows … where you are and where you’re going is a killer app,” Mayer said.
The growth of maps and local for mobile devices show why Google is investing and pushing so hard in this area. Mayer said 20 percent of searches overall are local and on mobile devices it’s about 40 percent. That means that mobile users are very intent driven and looking for things nearby, as we’ve written before. It behooves Google and many others to be a prime resource for people, guiding them to local businesses and services and monetizing this local intent through advertising and offers.
Mayer said Google is working on developing more contextual discovery, providing consumers with relevant information about their surroundings without them having to actually conduct a search. That means understanding what a user is doing, where they are exactly and what they might be interested at different points in the day at different locations.
Mayer said Google is trying to get users to provide more feedback through ratings on Google places and check-ins through Latitude. We’re still not there where Google has us figured out and can serve up what we want without asking for it. But as it builds out so many services that leverage location, it’s getting closer to its goal and the big payoff that it can bring.