There has been light speculation for a long time about whether Google+ Business Pages will eventually replace Google Places altogether. It would seem to be the logical next step in the evolution of the service as they are getting more businesses involved with their own pages while pushing to get as many users as possible.
Shortly after the launch of Plus last year, some were wondering why there was no business integration. Google responded in August by introducing business pages for a limited number of major brands, then opened it to every business in November, 2011. Creating a page is easy – almost too easy and unverified at the moment. Anyone can create a business page for any business by simply putting in the phone number from their Google Places page.
Assuming that they are waiting to reach a tipping point before verifying business pages and assuming that they are going to continue to consolidate services, does it make sense that Plus will completely replace pages some time this year?
Will the reviews we right about our favorite sushi bar or the barber that botched our last haircut be better suited on a social network rather than a directory-style listing? Will map integration into Google+ combined with GPS on our smartphones make finding the cowboy boot store easier when we head to Houston for the first time? Will check-ins be counted towards search rankings?
Most importantly, will this be enough to make the service less of a “virtual ghost town”?