Google's Unusual Cloud-Storage Offer
If you’re a Google Drive user, and want 1 TB of extra space for free, Google can make that happen… provided you add to their Local Guides program. Local Guides is Google’s attempt to crowd-source information about restaurants, cafes, and other points of interest in a particular city. By writing reviews, uploading photos, fixing errors, and adding new locations, users earn points they can redeem for free storage (among other bonuses). Every contribution equals one point, with a maximum of five points available for each location. It takes between 200-499 points to earn that free TB, so anyone interested in the program should prepare for a lot of photo uploading and review writing. Longtime Google observers can see the connection between Google’s Local Guides initiative and its acquisition of Zagat back in 2011. While some pundits at the time questioned the search-engine giant’s decision to purchase a publishing company famous for its books of restaurant reviews, it’s clear that Google has always been on the lookout for ways to supplement the data it makes available to users. Unlike the search-engine market, where Google continues to dominate, the “local guides” industry is filled with aggressive competitors, most notably Yelp. While Google doubtlessly hopes that the combination of Google Maps and crowd-sourced information can make it the definitive tool for anyone looking for a coffee shop in an unfamiliar neighborhood, it might struggle to accumulate enough data in the short term to beat out those competitors—hence the additional incentive of data storage. For any tech pros working on projects that incorporate a “local guide” aspect in some fashion—and who might have already viewed Yelp as a strong rival—Google could also present a rising challenge.