November 7, 2008
Heather Hopkins of Hitwise was kind enough to generate another look at market share of Mapquest & Google for Nov. ’07 thru Oct. ’08. Mapquest’s September jump has not continued. They appear to have plateaued and Google Maps appears to once again be on the rise.
Mapquest has risen on my local radar of late. Their September market share numbers showed a healthy rise against Google Maps with the introduction of their new site. They seem to sincerely care about customer service and the client experience in local. They are rolling out new features to their Mapping product on a regular basis lately.
Mapquest has long held the lead in the maps market place due their early start and their end user loyalty. They have however been experiencing market share declines for a number of quarters as Google Maps has shown a steady ability to take market share in the mapping & local arena and usually Google’s gains came at Mapquest’s expense.
Do you think that Mapquest’s product is competitive with Google Maps? Does their UI work as well as Google’s? Can they provide meaningful competition to the Google juggernaut in Local? Can user engagement hold Google at bay? Does customer service matter in the battle for market share?
I will be interviewing Mark Law, VP of Product Development, Mapquest next week and I am wondering what questions you might like to ask him about Mapquest in their quest for a Local presence.
November 4, 2008
Andrew Turner of the HighEarthOrbit.com blog, reported on his work developing VoteReport:
an open public reporting system to be used during the 2008 US Election to track the situation as citizens cast their ballots. The simple goal is to make it easy for anyone to send in a report describing the wait time, overall rating and any complications that are impairing their ability to participate in the election. For more information check out http://twittervotereport.com.
The system gathers and maps information from voter reports via a backend that aggregates together Twitter, SMS, voice, iPhone and Android native applications, and even YouTube and presents it in a visually appealing map layout. They also provide a range of feeds in OpenSearch XML, KML, GeoRSS & GeoJSON for others that might use the data on their own maps.
It combines not just deep local data but near real time local data with a map in way that contribute to our understanding of real events on the ground and help us make different decisions in our life. Its a cool use of technology and gives a glimpse of the power maps when combined with social tools and mobile technologies.
I have included an iframe of the map below. If it doesn’t load correctly or loads too slowly, visit their site, http://votereport.us/reports/map to see this product work.
November 3, 2008
Coverage of my shenanigans vìs-a-vìs Microsoft’s listing in Google Maps has been wider than just the search industry. Regardless, a number of writers have ascribed intentions and feelings to me that seem to drift toward the dramatic and away from reality.
From the Silicon Alley Insider: “An angry small business advocate has his revenge”. and “Mike Blumenthal, who’s been covering the topic obsessively,”. Well obsessive maybe but angry?
From SeoRoundtable: “I guess he got sick of covering the issues and not much being done about stopping it. He decided to do something a bit extreme. He hijacked Microsoft’s listing in Google Maps and made them a Microsoft Escort Service. He also messed around with profiles, here is one example:” To defend my honor, it was Danny that messed around with profiles. I did everything under my public profile and no, it isn’t SBrin. And anyways, “a bit extreme” is roughly akin to sort of pregnant.
I liked Danny’s read on the effort in SEL: Mike Blumenthal has been diligently covering how local listings can be hijacked in Google Maps. He’s also been frustrated that Google doesn’t seem to be fixing the local hijacking problem. Although even the word frustration ascribes an emotion that I don’t actually feel.
I think Hyped.nl in Holland captured it best when he said: “Grapjas maakt van Microsoft een escort service” which translated in Google Maps to: Funny makes Microsoft an escort service. Martijn where are you when I need you ?
For those writers that actually care about my motivations and feelings, it comes from a passion for Local, a desire to know all that I can know. While I do empathize with small business folks, having been one for many years, I really just want local to be all that it can be (is it ok to use that Army clichè here?) and not just another cesspool of illicit blowhard marketing. I think Google has the best chance of taking local to the promised land, but and this is a big but, only if they put integrity of local data at the top of their list.
A bit extreme? Angry? Obsessive? Hrmph! As Curley used to say I resemble that remark!
Ultimately, for me the questions are: Did my “prank”, help or hurt Local? Did I cross some ethical boundary? Let me know what you think!
October 31, 2008
Google’s Voter Information Tool has gone mobile. From the official Google Blog:
With the U.S. elections less than a week away, voting drives are ramping up. Political parties and non-partisan groups alike are sending out volunteers to encourage citizens to vote on November 4. To make sure these volunteers have the same voter info tools available to them on their phone as on their computer, we’ve now launched a mobile voting locator tool on m.google.com/elections. (Click here to send this to your phone.)
It is nice to see that this tool works on new smartphones as well as on older not-so-smart phones like my ancient Nokia 3650. Good Job Google!
October 21, 2008
Where Will Android Go Next? - Om Malik, GigaOm
When it comes to its new mobile operating system, Android, Google’s dreams go beyond just mobile phones. Indeed, the company is hoping that the open-source version of the software will eventually find its way into a panoply of devices.
iPod Touch serves as a flight ticket – a real e-ticket - Frank Fuchs, Locally Type
Frank covers his first experience with using his portable mobile device for e-ticketing. It works and and the counter attendant was able to scan the ticket directly from his iPod screen.
A Look at Google’s First Phone – David Pogue, NY Times
The new G1 from T-Mobile brings the promise of truly open mobile computing with full browsing capability to the cell phone. The logic of a cell phone purchase, however, is made more difficult by the awkward dance between the hardware, software & provider. It is never an easy decision and Pogue’s review of the new T-Mobile Android based G phone points out why.
The Android software looks, feels and works a lot like the iPhone’s. Not as consistent or as attractive, but smartly designed and, for version 1.0, surprisingly complete. In any case, it’s polished enough to give Windows Mobile an inferiority complex the size of Australia; let’s hope Microsoft has a good therapist.
So there’s your G1 report card: software, A-. Phone, B-. Network, C.
InfoUSA, Urban Mapping announce custom local search product - Christopher Hosford, BtoBOnline
Through a custom integration agreement, infoUSA customers can link business listings with contextually relevant neighborhood information from Urban Mapping’s database of more than 60,000 U.S. neighborhoods in more than 2,700 cities and towns.
The companies said such enhanced geo-location search capabilities would allow for more precise advertising and higher conversions.
SBB trains live on www.swisstrains.ch – Robert, SwissTrains.ch
Take a look at what Google’s Jonathan Rosenberg thinks the future of Mapping looks like.
From the Q3 Earnings Call: One other thing I would actually suggest you try one of the coolest maps applications I saw. Go to swisstrains.ch to see the precision of Swiss trains in real-time and you will actually get a visceral sense of what it is going to be like for people when all of this stuff works on their browsers and works in mobile devices.
Details Emerge about Motorola’s Android Phone - Greg Sterling
Indeed, notwithstanding the built-in social networking elements, price may be a more effective differentiator for the Motorola Android phone. If there is price competition among the various Android vendors, how might that affect BlackBerry and the iPhone? Both have some insulation against price competition: BlackBerry owns the enterprise market today and the iPhone the high-end consumer market. Yet both could be forced to respond if multiple Android handsets are priced closer to $100 than $200.
And the more prices come down for smartphones, the more that segment of the market will grow. Three of the top five selling phones in the US are smartphones (two BlackBerry phones and the iPhone). That in turn benefits the mobile Internet as we’ve repeatedly seen:
October 16, 2008
MarketWatch noted that MerchantCircle Revolutionizes ‘Feet on the Street’ Sales Force by Tapping Current Business Members. The subhead read: Local Business Owners Rewarded for Signing Up Business Neighbors to Network. I also read with interest Greg Sterling’s related announcement: MerchantCircle Turns SMBs into Sellers where he noted:
In a clever twist, MerchantCircle is seeking to turn its thousands of SMB “members” (it now claims 630K) into a sales channel that will sell its services to other small businesses.
I could imagine a headline that said instead: Merchant Circle implements new plan to turn neighbor against neighbor.
I can already see Matt McGee, moaning loudly, when he receives his first automated phone call from his local Plumber (Joe?) who mentions in the prerecorded call, that his daughter saw a bad review about Matt’s SEM services, and that Matt better scurry on line to MC for some reputation management and to verify his business.
While I think that the plan is brilliant, the “devil” as they say is in the details and I am sure that Merchant Circle will bring their very special view of marketing to the equation. Any local merchant would be well advised to not be the first one on the block to take up the offer until the details of their marketing strategy become clearer.
You wouldn’t want to be the first merchant to project Merchant Circle’s brand of marketing into your local neighborhood. It may be too clever by half as neighbors have long memories and the revolution of which MarketWatch speaks may not be the one that they envisioned.
October 9, 2008
The other day I noted that “As I have pointed out before, it is my belief that the IYP’s have already lost in this race. From my point of view they bring little of technical or marketing value to the space. Their core product, business listings have been commoditized to the point of being available for free and without significant innovation there is no reason for their survival going forward.”
But I had coffee with Ahmed Farooq of iBegin on my way home from SMXEast and he pointed out that there was a path for them to success. Everybody these days has access to cheap or free YP listings. InsiderPages, Dex or Superpages no longer have exclusive listing data. What they do have is “feet on the street”.
They have the sales staff and customer relations that could solve the remaining problem in Local. That is to gather all of the deep local data about real, extant businesses that people care about….not just hours, but brands, niche information, context and other details that will make Local truly useful and not just a broken Yellow Pages.
They have what Google, in their algorithmic approach to Local, will never have; conversations with real businesses on the other end of the phone. Unlike their upstart competitors, they have scale and capital. The IYP’s could once again provide unique data that is valuable and that could push local to the next level of accuracy and functionality.
It would seem a so much more successful strategy to gaining links than their Payola approach. It would create value to themselves and the greater internet, obviously a concept that they have yet to grasp.
October 8, 2008
Yesterday I asked whether Google Map’s upward trend continue? Can Mapquest maintain its market share? Or like the IYP space does Google just have too much presence in search to not win this race also?
From where I sit, these Map & IYP Market Share comparisons only look at a narrow sliver of Local results being delivered to end users. I have taken the liberty of adding an estimate of Google’s % of total Internet traffic that shows a Local OneBox to Hitwise’s chart. I am assuming that Google.com has roughly 6% of total traffic and that the Local Onebox shows for geo specific queries on roughly 10% of all searches. It could be as low as 7% and perhaps as high as 15%.
Regardless, it indicates that Google.com is displaying a map with attendant local results 2 to 3 times more frequently than Mapquest. Thus when you combine the reach of Google Maps and the Google.com Local OneBox, it is approaching 1% of total Internet traffic. This aggregate is 3 to 4 times the market share of MapQuest.
Google has never sat on it’s laurels in regard to Map’s market share. At every opportunity they have directed traffic inwards towards Maps as opposed to elsewhere. As Matt McGee noted on SearchEngineLand:
We’ve noted on Search Engine Land that two factors likely began to change the traffic trends for map sites: First, when Google stopped linking to MapQuest and Yahoo! Maps; second, when Google Maps began to be featured prominently in Universal Search results.
The imminent release of location aware browsers will further refine Google’s ability to deliver locally relevant results to the desktop. I am sure that this not the only trick up their sleeves.
But even this analysis captures but a share of the local information flowing from the Google Map’s data siloh into end user’s hands….
October 7, 2008
For my presentation at SMXEast, Heather Hopkins of Hitwise was kind enough to provide me with this custom view comparing the 3 leaders in the Maps/IYP space. With Mapquest’s recent upgrade this space is largely converging into a consolidated Maps/Directions/Business Listing product.
As I have pointed out before, it is my belief that the IYP’s have already lost in this race. From my point of view they bring little of technical or marketing value to the space. Their core product, business listings have been commoditized to the point of being available for free and without significant innovation there is no reason for their survival going forward. Above them they are being cannibalized by Google, Mapquest and Yahoo and from the bottom they are loosing out to the more nimble iBegin’s of the world. As you can see in the graph, the market share of the IYP leader, YellowPges.com, demonstrates that weakness.
So it would appear from this graph that the battle is between Google and Mapquest. Yahoo, with their innovative local and map products might be considered the dark horse. September’s introduction of a new local product by Mapquest and the rough Google transition to TeleAltas (among other problems) seems to have led to an uptick by MapQuest.
Will that trend continue? Can Mapquest maintain its market share? Or like the IYP space does Google just have too much presence in search to not win this race also? Let me know what you think. I will share my thoughts tomorrow.
October 1, 2008
Google, in upgrading Google Blog search, has created an intriguing potential competitor to Techmeme. The upgraded search provides broad blog coverage, picks up stories quickly and has the potential to project blog content more widely. ReadWriteWeb noted:
The new Google Blogsearch has the potential to reach tens of millions of people and drive insane amounts of traffic.
Whether that is true for local blogs is yet to be seen. There is however a feature that highlights blog by major search terms. This could have an a positive traffic impact for hyperlocal blogs as it emphasizes blogs related to primary geo search phrases: