April 11, 2006 SDF MapOFF!

SDForum copy.jpgSDF June06 MapOFF.jpgForrest Brady face1.jpgKreitler Jeremy face1.jpgTran Thai face1.jpgYang Andy face1.jpg

Map On, Map Off, The Mapper!
A MapOFF! was held On April 11, 2006 at Yahoo’s Sunnyvale headquarters. O’Reilly Media’s Brady Forrest moderated a panel made of Yahoo’s Jeremy Kreitler, Google’s Thai Tran, and Ask.com’s Andy Yang. They were asked to compare their mapping and geosearch features in what amounted to a shootout.

Since the inception of GoogleMaps API last year, there has been an explosion in interest and development in geosearch. Maps are quickly evolving from static to dynamic media showing surprising new relationships from data, like housing prices or crime statistics.

By and large all three companies are working on delivering what users want. They want more than the simple line drawings in color on a page or screen. They want aerial photographs and ground level views that tell them not just the address but also the name of the restaurant, what’s on the menu and whether there are any health code violations. They want instantaneous rerouting around traffic, construction and accidents. Geosearch shows the greatest potential for wireless or mobile platforms. People will eventually stop printing maps and simply carry them on their cellphones.

Beyond the everyday moving from place to place, the most interesting demonstration was by Google for National Geographic. A map of the world was covered with the magazine’s trademark yellow rectangles. Clicking on a particular spot revealed a photograph and text from the magazine’s archive. Yahoo now offers one-meter photographic resolution throughout the United States in a satellite hybrid mode. Ask.com allows for reverse geocoding. This means you can click on a place on a map and get the address. The competition for users and an active developer community will continue to drive innovation in geosearch.

DJ Cline
Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.