Her focus on geo/local products puts her at the forefront of Google's next major opportunity.
Location is another approach to social computing, one that more readily lends itself to business models. Social networking is all about preventing the privacy gag reflex to collect personal information that can be monetized.
Location-based social computing may have privacy implications, but it's inherently less invasive because being in public entails a diminished expectation of privacy. And while social networking information may reveal commercial possibilities, location-based information can reveal commercial opportunities, in real-time.
Location can serve as a substitute for identity. It may provide enough information that personal information isn't required, at least as far as marketers are concerned.
The mantra of real estate valuation -- location, location, and location -- happens to be highly relevant for mobile advertising, which has been repeatedly cited as an area of opportunity by Google executives.
"If you think about of where we are with Web, pretty much all large enterprises have by now rolled out at one or more iterations of their Web and e-commerce strategy," said Al Hilwa, program director for application development software at IDC, in an e-mail. "What is left is lots of small retailers and mom and pop stores who are going to be getting into the game over the next few years, likely driven by their customers going mobile. Advertising for these local customers will probably be as close to the next big thing as we have in e-commerce and geolocation is an integral part of that."
Google's major geo/local products include Google Earth and Google Maps, along with related services like Street View, Places, and Latitude. These services will become increasingly important through partnerships with automakers and consumer electronics manufacturers. The Internet of Things is at hand, or so some say.
Mayer will still have plenty to do in her new job.
Google in the Enterprise SurveyThere's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.