Google and Real Estate

by nikiscevak on January 26, 2011

Google today announced that they would no longer allow searching of real estate on Google Maps.

I’ll admit part of writing this post is to point back to my post about six months ago when I said that Google had failed in real estate to date because of their wedded view that people want to use the map interface as their preferred mechanism of searching real estate listings.

The map, in my very strong opinion, is a poor way to search for listings. If anything a search interface by images, similar to the one was pioneering for shoes and fashion, is a much more efficient way of finding real estate. The location is obviously important but the exact location is a contextual attribute not the primary one.

With that said, I think the move is a fantastic one for Google. Firstly, they’ve admitted they are wrong. This is surprisingly rare in any corporate setting, which leaves the door open to startups every single day. The willingness of startups to admit they’re wrong is a hugely under-rated competitive advantage. So bravo Google.

But that candidness does not permeate to all of Google, though. Here is Eric Chu, a group manager at Google for the Android platform on why they haven’t yet released in-app payments: “Developers were busy with their Christmas applications,” Chu said. “So we couldn’t get enough feedback,” he continued.

Are you fucking serious? Who on earth believes this was the main reason? Given that no one in their right mind would take this at face value, the cream on the cake is that they are hospital passing the blame to their development community – THEIR MOST IMPORTANT SUCCESS DRIVER.

End rant.

The real estate clean up is likely the result of Marissa Mayer and her move across to local. Although it’s the end of Google Maps and Real Estate, and Google Base in general, I find it hard to believe that Google will leave their classifieds ambitions there. It’s just too important and too close to Google’s core business to ignore for any length of time.

Finally, long time readers of this blog will know of my fascination of Eric Schmidt, essentially seeing him as the luckiest man in the history of the Internet, while after a string of failures and even a low key role in a success (Sun) was foisted upon Google by Kleiner Perkins and who never seemed to do anything let alone understand what business they were in. That was OK because Larry and Sergey agreed with him when he said something they already believed in and over-ruled him on things they didn’t. If it was a triumvirate it was an isosceles triangle and not an equilateral one.

And so it was that investors essentially didn’t care less that he stepped down from CEO as nothing much has really changed except Larry seems to be willing to take on a more public role now. But that wasn’t the last of it. Here is a line that Schmidt tweeted – after being made $6bn richer for the last decade: “Day-to-day adult supervision no longer needed”.

Really? It’s one of those passive-agressive remarks that he can chuckle with Sergey and Larry and they probably chuckle along too and in parallel think WTF? Schmidt can say it’s said in irony but I can’t help but think there is more than an ounce of truth as to what exactly beyond that he provided the company.

My bet is that Schmidt will become the next Jim Barksdale, who after Netscape ramped up a venture fund that made a string of average and poor investments and has drifted off into the ether.

  • This is really right move taken by the google by disallowing real estate listing from google maps. There are lots of players in the market who want to sell the property so this is good for them that they get better place for compete now.

  • It is great for the people who search things related with the real estate in Google apps because google now decide that they will allows searches which is related with the real estate.

  • Google and real estate is connected with each other.  Google provides you an information and also provide an information of the house placings.  

  • Ryan

    A map interface is my preferred view of looking for real estate online. I think Google just did a terrible job.

    For example, when we bought our first house in a small USA city, we knew the areas we wanted to buy in but we didn't know every street name in those areas. The city was too small to have "suburbs" or named areas of the city. Therefore, we would just drive around the area looking for "for sale" signs ever other weekend. It was just not easy to do location based searches for real estate listings.

    Another example, we rent now in Sydney and we want to upgrade to a bigger place. Our son is in school so we want to stay within walking distance to the school. Doing a search for rentals in our suburb is too small an area, doing a search in surrounding suburbs is too big an area. It would be nice if there was a map I could look at that just showed me the location of rentals in my price range.

  • Always enjoy your take... Curious, if Google wanted to buy a real estate search presence that would compete internationally, who would they be looking at?

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