Lost among the hubbub surrounding the similarly named Facebook Places is Google's local product: Google Places. It might not include check-ins, but it is a product aimed at local businesses and search queries... and tied to Google's core competency and model. Google Places is: Yelp + AdWords + Google Analytics + Groupon. It's powerful.
Tied to Google's local search - which is integrated into core search, mobile and Google Maps - Google Places allows businesses to create profiles of themselves. These profiles supplement search results with content, pictures, etc.
For consumers or searchers, this means deeper and more actionable content. For business owners, this means that Google can provide analytics about searches / searchers... and of course get you to advertise against them. This includes:
A business dashboard (analytics) and advertising / coupon center:
A communications platform to broadcast content / events:
And a mobile / print couponing platform - of course tied to Google's mobile and maps platform:
And of course, Google is capable of promoting Places heavily through their content network (below is an example ad unit from this blog) and through Google's other popular products: