Google, eager to cash in on the “local” trend — a la Yelp, Foursquare, and Facebook — is about to burn a huge amount of cash on its efforts.
Google is “preparing to distribute millions of custom mobile devices to small businesses around the U.S.” TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington reports. “These devices will allow customers to check-in and rate the businesses and perhaps even purchase items via Google Checkout,” he writes.
Presumably, this is for people who don’t have smartphones of their own to check-in from, or perhaps for merchants to participate themselves.
While giving mobile devices to businesses is one way to convince them to participate in Google’s services, and could be cool, this could also be a disaster. How many devices will be lost or stolen? What sort of tech support is Google going to provide? What sort of network infrastructure?
This just sounds crazy and overly ambitious. (And at a cost of likely hundreds of dollars per device, it’s at least going to be expensive.) But we suppose if anyone can afford it, and is wacky enough to try, it’s Google.
Earlier: Google Is Now Officially Evil