Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Innovation will be key component in Google’s Response to Apple’s entry into Map Applications

In the wake of Apple WWDC 2012 (commentary), a few notable changes are likely to occur in the mobile landscape, especially in regard to mapping solutions and applications - maybe. Apple’s announcement to integrate its own mapping software into iOS6 (Apple devices) signals that a new player has emerged in the mapping techno-marketplace…a marketplace that has been traditionally dominated by Google, and in the minor key, AOL via Mapquest.

A useful comparison of Google and Apple map functionality has been put together by Casey Chan at Gizmodo.  This overview provides sufficient context for the discussion that follows here on how Apple’s entry into this particular area of technology will impact Google Maps in the narrow frame, and map technology innovation in the larger frame.  

    Google                              Apple
    (image courtesy of Gizmodo).

Tale of the Tape: 
Google: significantly more depth and detail
Apple: Turn by turn voice navigation (which is available for Google Android users)

Winner: Google. Depth and detail in data is more important than the promise of “shiny” things.

Content. Innovation.

Apple’s new map solutions in iOS6 (granted in beta) will spur greater competition in the map marketplace for user share, which may in the long-run drive innovation.  Google’s history of collaborative innovation will likely mean we will see some exciting upgrades and enhancements to its current map solutions, which are already robust. These changes will be exciting.

We have seen a trend of making maps more interactive. Might we see Google add-in more social media features to map solutions, whereby users can scroll over areas on maps and pull up user comments on the locations shown. Social comments on locations in the map could be added to existing drop-down menus that allow users to get deeper feedback on the maps they are developing and viewing.

E.G.: Want the local skinny on a route and locations therein? Looking at 101 North as you head to San Francisco? Scrolling over locations on the route in Google Maps, we might be able to find user comments on a variety of topics – traffic, quickest routes, roadwork, best places to eat, and shortcuts.  Yes, these are available on a number of other sites and stand-alone applications – will these features be more integrated into a complex, yet easy to navigate, elegant single map solution?

Google can mix map solutions, with social media commentary (re: useful user tips/advice), with Wiki style background information tied into SM applications such as Yelp.

One thing we can be sure of….Google will innovate and end users will reap the benefit of more robust, interactive, and interesting map solutions. 

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