Sunday, July 11, 2010

Has Google ever heard of laptops?

I'm finally home for a few weeks, after spending more than a month on the road. One of the things I’ve noticed is how Google handles geographic location.

A simple way to see what Google thinks of your location is to Google Starbucks or Chinese food. Usually it works: at Stanford, I get Palo Alto locations and at work I get San Jose locations.

Sometimes it doesn’t. In suburban San Diego, I got downtown San Diego locations 30 miles away. It reminds me of Facebook, offering me “personalized” ads for a smaller city 60 miles away. (I get into The City about twice a year, even though a neighbor once commuted daily).

Still, it makes sense to try to geographically localize things, even if the idea of “local” is sometimes crudely operationalized.

What I don’t get, however, is how Google handles being in a foreign country. When I was in Holland, I got my search results in Dutch, and in Brussels I had a choice of French or Flemish.

Why???? Did my favorite language somehow change when I changed cities? Hasn’t Google heard of cookies? Laptops?

OK, perhaps the cookies don’t have a lot of information. What about when I’m logged in with my Google ID?

Or, worse yet, when I ’m in Blogger, trying to post a blog entry? Did my preferred language for posting blog entries suddenly change to Dutch? (Or German the month before?)

This is not exactly rocket science — presumably a loose end that was overlooked. Still, for an organization with a pretax profit of $8 billion, it seems like they have the resources to polish off this rough edge on their core business.


Chris said...
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nish said...
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