Google is adding Hotpot functionality into Google Places, dropping the standalone service to create a single source for company information and peer reviews.
Google Hotpot competes with the popular Yelp service – both invite patrons to post reviews of businesses – while Google Places invites businesses to say something about themselves. But now the Hotpot brand will be dropped and Hotpotters will have to go to Google Places to have their say.
It was strange for Google to operate separate information services related to the same business, so combining the two makes sense. Hotpot was also a strange name – so much so that the company felt the need to explain it in the very blog posting that records its demise.
Google's move should worry Yelp, whose business model rests entirely on providing the same service – customer reviews and business advertising. Yelp still has a significant following, with reviews of everything from restaurants to New York sex clubs, but being integrated into Google's search and supported by mass mailings of QG Codes and NFC stickers could well give Google Places the upper hand. ®
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