News from Google that its Google Local service has now moved to the home pages of the US-based Google site and Google Canada. Previously, the service was only accessible to those who knew to go directly to the Google Local site or who saw Google Local results inserted into Google through a OneBox display.
Despite the move, the service remains in beta. First launched as a Google Labs project in September 2003, then released as a formal beta in March 2004, Google Local has been in development for between a year and two and a half years, depending on what start date you go with.
Either way is a long time and adds further fuel to the fire of Google not knowing how to get products out of beta. More telling is the fact that Google previously had suggested that Google Local would only make it to the home page when the beta process was over. From my story about Google losing its tab interface last year:
Google Local Search, rolled out earlier this month, does not appear as a search link on the home page. Google doesn't believe the service is yet developed enough for this type of visibility to be given.
"This is a long way from its lab launch, but it's still a product that's in beta," said Marissa Mayer, Google's director of consumer web products, when talking with Search Engine Watch editors about the local launch earlier this month. "When we are more comfortable taking it out of beta, I think then we'd be really look at adding a tab."
So why does Froogle, also in beta, get home page visibility? That product was launched well over a year ago, and recently Froogle was upgraded. Apparently, this tipped the scales in its favor.
For more on Google and its growing beta problem, see NYT On Yahoo's US Gains & Google's Endless Betas, More On The Endless Betas Of Google, and if you're a Search Engine Watch member, my Breaking Out Of Google's Beta Limbo that charts when major Google services were launched and how they they were (or still are) in beta.
For those keeping score, it's now 5 of 7 major services on the home page -- or 71 percent -- remaining in beta. That's if you're a Google Desktop user. If you're not, then it's 4 out of 6 major services in beta or 66 percent.
For more on Google Local, see these past articles from Search Engine Watch:
- Local Search Part 2: Google & Mobilemaps Bring Back Geosearching: On Google's local product that
first appeared in September 2003.
- Google Pushes Local Search Into the Limelight: On Google Local moving out of Google Labs in March
- Google Enhances Local Search: On changes made to the service in September 2004 but problems that still
- New Google Local Sites: On Google Local sites beyond the US and Canada
- More On FAST Beats Google For AOL Local: On major Google partner AOL deciding against using Google's local results.