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Google Puts Places On Local Guide Map

Striking fear into the hearts of local guides far and wide, Google just added a friend-driven, local business recommendation engine to Google Places. Quite simply, if users decide to share their business ratings with friends, they can then see the places their friends recommend.

Dubbed Hotpot [not Hotspot!] the concept is pretty straightforward, writes VentureBeat, "but when connected with a business directory of more than 50 million places, it can be a powerful consumer tool."

Notes Mashable, "Not only has Google beaten Facebook to the punch with its early release of a Places recommendation engine, it's also giving businesses even more reason to set up Places pages and start thinking about their location-based advertising on Google."

"The tool appears to combine the best of two worlds: Yelp and its reviews and Foursquare's sharing of someone's location," VentureBeat adds.

So, does that mean big trouble for Yelp and Foursquare?

Well, "One advantage Yelp has going for it is integration with Facebook, which can ease the painful process of trying to construct yet another social graph out of your online connections," writes CNet.

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Meanwhile, Foursquare is rumored to be testing its own recommendation feature based on the large amount of data it has on the businesses its users frequent.

And, as CNet notes, Google hasn't had the best luck with social services. For various reasons, neither Orkut nor Google Latitude nor Google Buzz ever took off. Whether Hotpot is destined to follow the same fate remains to be seen.

"On its own, Hotpot isn't necessarily that different than what's available elsewhere (such as on Urban Spoon, Yelp, and Facebook)," writes Search Engine Land. "But as part of a larger social and local combination (the pieces of which Google mostly has already), it could be very compelling."

Rather than compete directly with, say, Foursquare, Search Engine Land suggests that Google should partner such a service.

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