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Geo-Location Is Hot! Hot! Hot!

Posted on 14 May 2008 by - Permanent link Trackback this post Subscribe to this post Comment on this post -  

There has been lots of news from the big internet players over the past few days. After the huge success of Google Maps (launched in 2005) it became obvious that localising the web was no mere fad, now comes the second generation of the technology.

An old map of the world

After Google Maps, Yahoo launched their own mapping service but its real value was found when they integrated it with Flickr allowing people to show maps of where their photos were taken. This is a concrete example of the semantic web returning value to the user.

Mobile Maps

Handheld GPS units have had their hardcore fans for many years, but in the meantime everybody (and I mean everybody) started carrying mobile phones around with them. There have been some attempts to marry the two, from Nokia’s N95 (with a high price tag, but features to match, to Google’s MMap, a version of Google Maps for popular mobile phones.

In the meantime, Twitter arrived and really shook up the mobile computing market by allowing lowest common denominator phones to interact with the web. Their 140 character genius has been mashed-up and geo-leveraged (I made a new term!) in lots of ways, including:

  • TwitterWhere - Tell the world where you tweet from
  • GeoTwitter - Shows the public feed on a world map
  • TwitterEarth - A prettier map, but lower functionality than GeoTwitter
  • Twitter Spy - A more Twitter-ish interface to a map of the public timeline

Enough History, What’s Happening Now?

Wow, loads.

Map, you are here

Yahoo maps gained new functionality recently and Google Maps got a facelift this month.

Not red-hot now, but Yahoo launched their FireEagle project a few months ago, which promises to be a “secure and stylish way to share your location with sites and services”. Whatever that means.

Both Google and Yahoo have launched (hopefully) massively improved geographical search facilities. You can bet that both want to be first to get the killer app for local search on GPS mobile phones.

What Is Next?

Big question...

Google owns the internet now, but Yahoo is making a very strong play for the semantic web and location data is low hanging fruit in that search space. We can expect a big fight over local search.

But maybe the big players have been distracted and some smaller competitors are emerging. Yelp, Finder can still own this kind of market - it’s the traditional media like Yellow Pages that should be really worried.


Photos by Library of Congress and goldberg, respectively.

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