After a several year lull the mapping segment is really hot again. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Nokia and Amazon are now competing fiercely in a newly reinvigorated mapping arena.
Yesterday, Amazon announced that its Maps API is now generaly available to developers who want to integrate maps into their Kindle Fire apps. Google Maps isn’t available for Kindle devices. Like the Google Play marketplace, which isn’t on Kindle Fire, Amazon doesn’t allow Google Maps on the popular devices (though you can get to it via the mobile web).
The Amazon Maps API was first released in beta earlier this fall. Developers have two options: they can integrate an interactive map with different views (standard, satellite). They can also add customized POI data on top of the map. However there’s no traffic or Street View available. Otherwise Amazon’s Maps API is similar to the Google Maps API.
Nokia is the data provider for Amazon Maps.
Amazon said yesterday, “Cyber Monday 2012 was the biggest day ever for Kindle sales worldwide.” However the company has never released actual sales figures. According to various sources such as IBM, Chitika and others, the Kindle Fire drives a small share of internet traffic. It’s mostly an Amazon content-consumption device (books, movies, etc).
According to IBM data released yesterday Kindle devices were responsible for 2.6 percent of all tablet-generated US internet traffic on Cyber Monday, compared with the iPad’s 90.5 percent.
Separately, Google announced more Street View coverage of the Canadian Arctic and a variety of ski resorts around the world. In many of these cases you can actually virtually ski a portion of the run.
Google Street View has emerged as one of Google Maps’ principal differentiators from other mapping services. However Nokia has developed a Street View like product through its Navteq division, though the imagery is more limited. Microsoft’s Street Side imagery (via Nokia) is available in selected markets, though it is less interactive than Street View. And Mapquest appears to have abandoned its efforts to provide street-level photography entirely.
Regardless, just a year or so ago it appeared that Google Maps had an effective monopoly on the segment. Almost overnight it now appears that there are multiple, strong competitors in the mapping space (not to mention several compelling startups) vying for consumer attention and usage.
That’s not an entirely accurate description of how things have evolved but that’s how it feels.