Location Insight provides banks, retailers and others with the ability to deliver store location information on their sites, on mobile devices and over the telephone. You can see how it will look by doing a search on “enhanced maps” on the Target site (Birds Eye is a part of it too). So is this important and, if so, why?
It’s significant for Microsoft because InfoNow validates Virtual Earth as a platform. (MapQuest was previously being used.) So there’s a bit of a PR coup here for the company. There’s also going to be some consumer awareness that will come from seeing Virtual Earth maps on all these store and company sites.
According to research from the e-Tailing Group, store locators are among the most popular consumer features on retailer websites (preceded only by free shipping, discounts and search).
Much more interesting to me, however, is the valuable local and location data that Microsoft now has access to. Right now the deal isn’t reciprocal, meaning that none of the InfoNow store location information is coming to Live Search (local or mobile). But Microsoft acknowledged to me that this was in the roadmap. In addition to Live Search, this has potential implications for Microsoft’s TellMe voice search unit as well.
These data are extremely valuable and would be a great enhancement for Live Search (online and mobile). That, to me, is a far bigger and more interesting longer-term aspect of this partnership.