Google Maps and the Quest for Relevance

A lot many products and businesses have been disrupted by Covid19. Many small and medium sized businesses have already shut shop and some are about to.

For instance, the tea shop outside my office to the pizza hut outlet to a fancy new restaurant (opened in the month of Jan) – they all have shut shop and there is no clarity on what’s going to replace them.

Given this scenario, one service which is totally impacted is..Google Maps.

Google Maps heavily relied on location of nearby businesses to not just guide you to your destination, but also help you discover local businesses around you (a major business useca$e).

And mind you, all of delivery businesses in India (and even global) rely on Google maps to get to the location.

Now a significant portion of that needs to be remapped and while Google took a great amount of time to map these businesses, there is very little time to redo this (the new business owners, I guess hardly have the enthusiasm and bandwidth to add their listings to ‘Google My Business’).

While we continue to fight Covid, the economy is trying to open up and people will soon start going back to local businesses. Mapping, as always needs to provide the discovery as well as directional usecase (where are the nearby carpenter shops).

And Google Maps, in its current avatar is on the verge of becoming irrelevant.

Pre covid, Google maps worked like a water tap – always there when you needed it. The tap needs to be refilled and that will be the most important activity for the product management and operations team.

How would you solve this, if you were leading the product management for Google Maps?


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