Google Maps API Terms of Service Update

The nearby.org.uk blog has a good piece on the new Google Maps API Terms of Service agreement:

Basically its laid out pretty clearly (see section 11.1) that if you use the API to display *your* data, then you grant Google a irrevocable licence to do as it sees fit with your data. 

Sure it says “You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Your Content. ” – first, to soften the blow, but then goes on to say “[to] publicly perform, publicly display and distribute Your Content. ” – I dont see how that is any different to saying they can do what they like with your data. 

It gets worse if you have “business listings data”, as 11.1(b) says: “For example, if you create a store locator application, Google may use the business listings information from the store locator to improve the Google Services such as Google Maps and local search.
- give your data away free to Google why don’t you!

Here is Ed Parson’s (Google Geospatial expert) take on the new TOS.

Google Maps Kiosks found in the wild

Martijn Beijk has spotted Google Maps embedded in an ATM kiosk in Barcelona, Spain.

These Google Maps kiosks were widely reported on last fall when gasoline pump maker Gilbarco Veeder-Root announced that they would be included in a new generation of gas pump.

At the time, there was a coupon feature included that was supposed to feature local merchants. These coupons were positioned as a potential revenue generator for the local gas station. To my knowledge, these have not been spotted in the wild. This kiosk is using the API and only showing their other locations.

Has anyone spotted other Google Maps Kiosks?

Google Maps + TeleAtlas + TomTom = Powerful map update strategy

Google Maps needs accurate underlying maps data to be successful. It needs the data to not only provide a positive user experience but to correctly deliver ads and a safe mapping environment. The change to TeleAtlas in September appeared to many to be a step backwards in map quality, partiuclarly in the U.S. But the nexus of Google Maps, TeletAtlas and Tom-Tom, TeleAtlas’s owner creates an alliance that is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the benefit of user generated content (UGC) to create a better mapping product.

Unlike business listing data where the motivations for gaming the system are high, user generated map data has the potential to create better, more accurate maps more quickly. A device like the Tom-Tom navigation devices can gather incredibly accurate GPS paths that when combined with the user feedback of Tom-Tom and Google Maps users and matched against satellite imagery can allow TeleAtlas to make more maps changes in less time, less expensively than sending out cars and drivers. This capability will grow, going forward, with the introduction of navigation devices that offer a two way connection back to TeleAtlas and TomTom.

The volume of data, the nature of the data and the timeliness of the data could mean that Map errors in Google could be updated in a 1 to 4 month time frame going forward, rather than the traditional 6-9 months they have taken in the past.

TeleAtlas recently released their first quarterly update that integrates TomTom UGC since they were aquired by TomTom in early June and contains significant improvements from community data .

At the end of last month, TeleAtlas provided a Webcast from Rik Kemmik VP of Product Management with a number of details about how community input changes the way maps are made.

Here are my notes of the conference (which is available as a podcast here)..
Continue reading

iPhone 2.2 upgrade to have new Google Map features

As the release date of the iPhone upgrade approaches, the rumor mills are churning. Gizmodo has a good roundup of likely new features that are thought to be in the next iPhone update (2.2). There are a number of interesting Google Map features that seem ready to appear on the iPhone in this update:

Street View
Walking directions
Public transport information
Share location (essentially a send to mail via Google Maps feature)

Google Maps in the iPhone shares the same listing and ranking of businesses as the browser based Google Maps and the Universal Local results. The last time I looked though it only showed the top 8 businesses in a query. Is that still the case?

Geolocation going mainstream – OS X to have by January?

Ed Parsons is the Geospatial Technologist of Google and he has noted for Geospatial services to belcome really mainstream, the ability to determine a users/devices location needs to be a standard function. Windows 7 announced that it would include the capability, the iPhone and gPhone already do. In a recent post Parsons speculates that All eyes then (will be) on Macworld in January, I would be surprised if we don’t… see a location API as a new feature of Snow Leopard.

With location awareness moving towards the mainstream, all of local will be affected. Ads will be more targeted and content can be more relevant. Google can make search even more personalized having reasonable confidence that if you search on the word “Dentist” that you are looking locally rather than for a wikipedia article.

With the next versions of the major operating system including location awareness, the leading smart phones including it, Firefox soon to offer it as well, it will have widespread availability within 12-24 months. It will have a long term, permanent affect on what we call local.

Goog-411 updated to “single search box”

Goog-411, Google’s voice driven 411 directory assistance that uses the same business listings and rankings as Google Maps, has recently been upgraded to only require a single business + city search phrase. This upgrade mirrors the late  July blue line upgrade to Maps that moved Maps from a two field entry (one each for business and location) to a single single search box like the main Google search page.

Goog-411 now starts the search with the phrase: Say the business and the city and state…If that query is not understood the service reverts back to the requirement to entry first say just the city and state. Once that query is answered it then notes: What business name or category?. While it is not noted the user can still ask for category + city during the first query combined query.

When on the road

Google Maps: Will Edit Wars go Politically Postal?

The community edit hijackings started in the Payday Loan industries to create location confusion, moved onto theft in the floral industries, were highlighted with a bit of pranksterism with the Microsoft Escort example and subsequently moved into the consumer complaint arena. As Ben Allen noted in his blog: You Deserve a Rake Today at Ickdonalds.

There is certain trend to these hijackings and they beg a larger question: When will politics enter the wiki world of Google Maps hijacking? In the not too distant future, the next frontier for use of the Maps community edit feature could very well be as a virtual reflection of real politics. The disputes of the world often shift to the internet as the broad reach of the platform creates opportunity for widespread impact and the anonminity provides cover to the perpetrators.

When will PETA take over McDonald’s? When will the Armenians take over the Turkish Embassy? When will the Service Workers Unions take over WalMart? These listings all remain unclaimed in Google Maps and seem to be likely targets for partisans of these particular real world battles.

I can only imagine the conversation between Eric Schmidt and the Turkish ambassador explaining how this could have happened.

You can see battle lines forming, albeit in a limited fashion, with edit wars in several of the unclaimed listings that I highlighted last week. These edit wars, once the province of Wikipedia, have now made their appearance in Google Maps. Two examples can be seen in the edit histories of the unclaimed Apple Corporate listing and Google’s unclaimed Cambridge record.

Take a look at the edit history of Google’s unclaimed listing in Cambridge to get a glimpse of the opinions that have already been expressed via Maps about Google:

Continue reading

Local Market Share October – Google resumes upward swing

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 vs. Google Maps Market Share 11/08

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.

Google Maps Roles Out Transit Training Videos

Google has roled out two new Maps transit trip instructional videos:

For new users:

As we are having more and more new Maps users and new forum members
everyday, we customized an Introductory Maps video for people who has
just about started to use Google Maps yet not very familiar with all
kinds of great basic features.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq7UA_Y5bsI

For more experienced users:

Plan a transit trip in cities around the world with Google Maps. Get
step-by-step directions and travel times for your entire route, all in
one place online. Check out our latest education video “Transit on
Google Maps”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWAyMfvLMC8

Google Maps: New Customer Complaint Arena

Google Maps, since my Microsoft hijacking, has taken on a whole new role; consumer advocate and complaint department against major national firms. Google’s community edit feature is allowing the “community” (aka disgruntled consumers) to speak out in ways that were not anticipated when the feature was released.

I was browsing Maps when I found this record for Apple Computer today. Here is how it looked a mere week ago. I swear it was not me.

Apple customer complaint

Given Google’s commitment to a wiki style of open community Maps environment, we can expect to see more of these. Mat McGee has a great post on the contradictions involved in Google’s position.

Developing Knowledge about Local Search