Users can now message businesses directly through the Google Maps app, in a move which pits the search giant against WhatsApp.
“Now you’ll see your messages with the businesses you connect with via Business Profiles within the Google Maps app, where you’re already looking for things to do and places to go or shop,” the company said in a blog post.
The idea is to keep business chats separate from personal messages.
Businesses that want to accept messages from customers can install the new My Business app from Google Play or the App Store which “makes it even easier for businesses to stay in touch with their customers in real-time and on the go,” the post added.
WhatsApp made a big push into connecting businesses with their customers when it launched a service for enterprises in January 2018. Within three months it had amassed 3 million active users.
In its latest earnings call, WhatsApp parent Facebook said it had achieved its first step of helping users connect with businesses “organically in ways they find useful” and the next step will be to “give businesses additional paid tools to increase those interactions”. This will include “a couple of products, paid messaging and ads in Stories.“
It is likely Google follows a similar path in order to monetise its new service.
Google has launched several chat apps in the past, with mixed results. While Duo got a positive response, investment in Allo was said to have “paused” in April due to low interest.
Meanwhile it is also working on RCS. In September, Google and Samsung said they are collaborating to ensure Android Messages and Samsung Messages work seamlessly with each company’s RCS technology, including cloud and business messaging platforms.Subscribe to our daily newsletter