The Lat Long Blog just announced that Google Hotpot, rather than being a separately branded product, will now just be part of Places. It previously was integrated into Places in Mobile but was a stand alone product on the desktop. What this means for the feature set is unclear. Here is the statement from Ron Lior, the product manager for Hotpot:
It’s been incredibly exciting to watch Hotpot grow—the community has quickly expanded to millions of users who are rating more than one million times per month and enjoying a truly personalized view of the world. Based on this success, we’ve decided to graduate Hotpot to be a permanent part of our core local product offering, Google Places. Rolling Hotpot into Google Places helps simplify the connection between the places that are rated and reviewed and the more than 50 million places that already have an online presence through Google Places—places that millions of people search for and find every day on Google.
Hotpot has been an incredible success in getting Google into the review space. In a few short months, Google moved from a paltry 3% of the review corpus to upwards of 20% and in some markets as much as 37%. Clearly, they have invested heavily in marketing of the brand as well as the features…. to loose the brand at this point would be more than bizarre….
Clearly, Google, in democratizing the review process, making it simpler and pushing it out to the cell phone has facilitated a broad expansion of the review process by folks that never left reviews before. In that effort, they were able to achieve a run rate of over a million a month (13 million or so a year). That compares to the roughly 15 million total reviews that Yelp has garnered and an estimated current rate of about 600,000 a month.
Does this portend the end of the stand alone Hotpot interface on the desktop? Does it just get rebranded? Does it get more fully integrated into Places? Does it just exist as a feature to Places in mobile?