What is Google Hotpot?
Google Hotpot is a site where people can rate restaurants, malls, supermarkets, coffeeshops, etc.
The idea is that by learning from what you enter and looking at what your friends like, Google Hotpot can give you recommendations for the best places to go to when you’re in another country, city, town, or neighborhood.
How Google Hotpot Works
When you arrive the first time you are welcomed and invited to set the (nick)name under which you want your reviews to be published.
Once filled in you get to the main screen where search is the primary mechanism to get to a place.
I entered the name of a buffet-style restaurant I happen to like. The system was smart enough to know where I am and didn’t suggests similar places elsewhere on the planet.
When you hover over the stars for the rating a little pop-up shows you what each star means:
Possible ratings are:
- Hated It
- Disliked It
- It was okay
- Liked it
- Loved it
There is also a special super-rating available of which you only have 10 to begin with:
Once you rate the place the box flips around and prompts you for a review. You can either fill it in or leave it as is.
Once you start to write your review additional rating metrics appear below the box.
Published ratings and reviews appear in the regular Google search results whether users are signed in or not.
Publicly the ratings and review are then available on the Google Places page for that business.
“Hotpot tastes better with friends”, says Google – and that’s precisely the problem: my friends — and yours – aren’t “on” Google.
The only “friends” I have who and have a Google user account and are officially signed in and would use this service are colleagues within the search & marketing industries and a handful of technology thought leaders.
I don’t know any “normal” people who will flock to this service.
- The value comes from community feedback but there is no community
Yelp has community. Tons of it. Google Hotpot has none. All Google’s social projects suffer from the very thing that makes Google the #1 search engine: the cost of switching is zero and therefore people won’t switch.
"Zero switching costs lead to a winner-take-all market for the leader. Even a modest initial lead will snowball until majority market share is reached and maintained. This is because, faced with a choice between two products, in the absence of switching costs users will choose the better one, even if it is only slightly better."
— Winner-Take-All: Google and the Third Age of Computing
- Add friends – again?!
There is an add fatigue in online social services. I understand Google doesn’t want to auto-add people the way they blundered with Google Buzz but seriously … no, I don’t want to do this again. Especially because the payback is zero.
- Web 1.5 social model
Anno Facebook/Twitter the very thought that I would travel to another place and would need a setup like Google Hotpot or even Yelp to figure out what’s good is dated.
In an age where you can extract Likes from the social graph, asking me to enter it specifically doesn’t work.
What This Means For You
Google Hotpot might make adding ratings and reviews a bit more inviting to some people. The vast majority of web users will post there comments on Facebook and Twitter though.
That said, ratings via Google appear at several keypoints – like the search results page – so you will want to have some reviews, some ratings, and certainly monitor what goes on here so you can react and respond to reviews, if needed.