Google switched on its public WiFi network in Mountain View less than an hour ago, its first experiment in location-based services covering 11-miles of tech-saavy real estate in the heart of Silicon Valley. Each WiFi user must have a Google Account and Google can pinpoint your location on the network based on your current access point.
Every Google account is GTalk enabled, including the just announced new GTalk client with free file transfer and voicemail. Every resident of Mountain View can now have free Internet access, email, voicemail, and much more.
Google also announced its first killer app for location-based connectivity: merchant coupons. Businesses can create and offer coupons through Google’s Local Business Center, prompting user action when viewing a Google Map or local listings. Businesses verify their information through an automated phone call for future click-to-call opportunities or a walk-in prompted by local listings.
Combine the two announcements and you get something really cool. Local merchants getting online and interacting with the local community through accurate information and perhaps a few freebies and discounts. Google will have a chance to play with the technology in its own backyard, soliciting feedback from local merchants and residents as they traverse the always-on mesh surrounding them. Life at Starbucks with their $10 Internet day passes may never be the same.