You know the Google Maps upside-down teardrop shaped markers? It looks like they’re starting to appear in the real world, at various locations around the globe. You can see the locations that have them on this Google Maps Favorite Places page.
For example, there are apparently a bunch of these markers in San Francisco already. One (which happens to be in my neighborhood) has been caught on camera. As you can see, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has his own Google Maps marker indicating that he likes La Boulange de Polk, a restaurant in the area. Newsom’s marker features a painting of the Golden Gate Bridge, other famous people have their own markers.
The statue is listed as being for “Summer 2009″ which seems to indicate that it will expire in a few months, and Google may remove it. But for now, this looks like a very smart way for Google to promote Maps. It’s also a good way to ensure that businesses list themselves on Maps, for the possibility that they’ll receive one of these markers, which are basically a (presumably) free endorsement of the establishment.
There are plenty of other famous people participating in this program including a lot of famous chefs endorsing restaurants they like, Kevin Rose (the co-founder of Digg), musicians (Moby, the guitarist of the Decemberists), and a whole host of others around the world.
Perhaps these things showing up is like the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, where it signals a shift in evolution.
Update: Here’s another market at Blue Bottle Cafe in San Francisco [photos: flickr/Jeremy Franklin]:
Update 2: Here’s another one via TwitPic:
Update 3: Google has now officially announced the feature and has release this video about it: