Tomorrow Google is holding an invite only session to talk about the future of Google Maps. The consensus is it’s about new/better/more 3D in the maps. Next week, at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WDC) Apple is expected to show off its new mapping software. The consensus is the new app will replace Google Maps.
I want to be excited, I really do, but none of the rumors and conjecture to date have sparked my interest much. Why not?
What I'm Not Excited About
- Google has been plying its 3D vision for mapping since it acquired Keyhole. I was an early non-adopter of Google Earth. Oh, it’s fine and sexy but did not answer the kinds of questions I wanted to ask as a citizen or as a professional. Instead I happily use 2D solutions and when forced use StreetView (with difficulty) for a real world perspective. The fact that Google just changed the name of Google Earth Builder to Google Maps Engine speaks volumes about the relative value of the two products/brands.
- I’m an Apple fan - I’m writing on a MacBook and love my two second gen iPod shuffles. But, none of Apple’s software of late has knocked my sox off. I uses Pages, Numbers and Keynote for my work and they are ok. I hate iTunes and use an open source Python script to sync my iPods. Maybe if I had an iPhone or iPad and loved them like so many folks do, I would be more excited about the new software.
- The daily barrage of new SoMoLo (social mobile location) apps from recent months/years have been a giant yawn for me. Companies large (Google, Facebook to name two) and small (too numerous and forgettable to mention) have tried to capture and tame geospatial. No, I don’t need another tool for find a good restaurant or to find people near me who have the same interests or to check in where I’ve been. This is all old news, and for me at least, was not compelling when it was new.
What I am Excited About
- I am excited to learn what Apple will do for data for its new software. Will it license data from big players like TomTom or Nokia? Will it go to smaller players like ADC or Blue Marble? Will is use imagery to create it? Will it crowdsource data (or perhaps it has already)? Will it use OSM in more than its iPhoto app?
- Will Apple be able to create a developer program that rivals the one for iOS? Will geo and non-geo developers be drawn to both a slick API and a reasonable revenue sharing model?
- Will Google make another leap beyond StreetView? That I think is the most compelling addition in recent years. I would be very happy to see a more intuitive user interface.
- Will Google move fast enough, or cleverly enough with Google Maps Builder to meet Esri’s rollout of ArcGIS Online for Organizations? Will the pricing work for local governments, the prime customers for the two offerings, best I can tell?