Microsoft Maps A New Niche

By Joseph Schwartz

Earthquakes don't whisper when they appear; they rumble and shake the ground.

Tuesday morning, mapping company seismographs collectively jumped at the news of Microsoft's entry into this industry.

MapPoint 2000 is Microsoft's newest addition to its line of MS Office applications.It is a stand-alone product powered by an enhanced software engine based on Microsoft's Expedia software.The new product's demographic data comes from Claritas and the maps come from Geographic Data Technology's DynaMap 2000.With an estimated retail price of $109, MapPoint clearly targets small businesses, students and casual office users.

As Larry Daniel has often pointed out, one of the stumbling blocks to our industry's growth is a perception that all mapping software is hard to use and even harder to afford.Products such as ArcView and MapInfo refute that myth, but the word is slow to reach millions of potential users such as small businesses, students and desktop publishers.We think that MapPoint 2000 can change that situation.

Microsoft's legendary marketing muscle will introduce desktop mapping to countless consumers who may never have thought that they needed such software.MapPoint 2000 will take market share from its competitors, but the entry of the Redmond, Washington giant into this arena will significantly expand the universe of new desktop mapping users over the long run.

Once that occurs, our industry will have a larger base of customers who potentially can move over--or move up--to other mapping products.MapPoint 2000 is still in its beta testing version.Our managing editor, Dan O'Brien is in the process of checking it out.Watch this site for an early review of MapPoint 2000.

Published Thursday, November 5th, 1998

Written by Joseph Schwartz

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