MapQuest Aims For Reboot With New Content, Partners, UI

mapquest-featured A few years ago, while others were investing in their mapping platforms, AOL was coasting with MapQuest. AOL's sustained neglect of the online mapping pioneer cost the site its leadership in digital maps. Now, the company hopes to claw its way back with new content and functionality in what was described to me as phase one of a new multiphase rollout. Call it a reboot. Although the site has had several false starts in trying to do that over the past couple of years (e.g., MQVibe). Despite this, MapQuest's strong brand has kept the AOL division from falling off -- dare I say it -- the map [...]


MapQuest Aims For Revival With New Mobile App

Mapquest logo Once the leader and innovator in online mapping, MapQuest has fallen pretty far from that perch. While the brand survives and the site is still widely used, it has for several years been overshadowed by rivals including Google and more recently Apple. According to recent comScore data MapQuest's mobile apps aren't in the top 15, although AOL is a top 10 mobile web property. MapQuest parent AOL has shown itself to be ambivalent about the site, having made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to sell it in the past. There have also been attempts to reinvigorate MapQuest from time to time. I [...]


Mapquest Debuts New Local-Social Mapping Site “MQ Vibe”

Screen shot 2011-10-13 at 2.21.50 AM People have been speculating about it for weeks and now it's live: MapQuest Vibe. With the launch of the new neighborhood-discovery site MapQuest is striking out in a promising direction. It's not a new social network, as some speculated, but it incorporates social input into a larger algorithmic-based framework that generates a score for nearly every neighborhood in the US, as well as local places. MQ Vibe is launching with 50,000 neighborhoods to start. The idea is certainly compelling: to rank various neighborhoods and local businesses as a way to help residents and tourists (and mayb [...]


Mapquest Takes On Google Navigation With Free Android App

Following the success of its iPhone app, Mapquest has released a free, voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation app for Android handsets. The new app differs in a couple ways from its older iPhone sibling. Most significantly it takes advantage of Android's speech capabilities and includes OpenStreetMap data, which allows the app to be used outside the US and results in some enhanced local mapping within the US. I've had a chance to use the app for the past 24 hours and can report that it generally works well, although there are a few areas and features that are rough around the edges. Mapquest' [...]


Mapquest Introduces New Look, New Capabilities

You might not have thought of it this way but the old MapQuest was mostly about driving directions. The new Mapquest (launching today) is about local search and an expanded range of capabilities and use cases. There's a new look and feel, a new back end, a single search box and a new "brand." Mapquest is the number two mapping site; Google having toppled it from atop the mapping throne in early 2009 after years of complacency and "feature neglect" at the AOL-owned property. But now with a new boss at AOL, fewer ads and a new focus on the consumer experience, Mapquest hopes to build new o [...]


AOL Returns As Independent Company, Search Decision Looms

Yesterday was the first day of trading for the "new" AOL, an independent company with a market cap of $2.5 billion dollars. When AOL "bought" TimeWarner a decade ago in an all-stock transaction worth $182 billion there was a near consensus that the combined company represented the future of media and publishing. It made a lot of sense -- conceptually. But the marriage never worked out and AOL saw its fortunes decline literally and figuratively as newer companies ascended over the last 10 years. Now, with former Googler Tim Armstrong at the helm, the company's independent strategy is focused [...]


MapQuest Launches iPhone App With Innovative Local Search Features

AOL's MapQuest has been in mobile mapping longer than any of its rivals, but it's playing catch up when it comes to the iPhone, which remains the most important smartphone platform for the time being. This morning, MapQuest launched the iPhone version of its MapQuest4Mobile app (launches iTunes). Prior to this app the company has offered an optimized browser-based version for both the iPhone and Android. MapQuest4Mobile as an app has been available for BlackBerry for some time. The new iPhone MapQuest4Mobile app offers a rich environment with innovative new features. There's a great deal of [...]


MapQuest Launches Enhanced Biz Locator, Puts Brands On The Map

MapQuest has beefed up its business locator tool. A scrolling vertical bar now appears on the upper right of every map allowing users to populate any map quickly and simply with different categories of businesses or, in the case of advertisers, with specific brand locations. Here's what happens when you click the logo for Holiday Inn on a New York map: Note how Holiday Inn also has the display ad on the right side of the page (see below). That's very deliberate and will be a feature of advertising on the business locator: Users can also add multiple layers of business type [...]


MapQuest Launches Mobile Personalization

As part of a wave of new features, MapQuest late last year introduced My MapQuest, a personalization tool for the PC side of the business. It subsequently renamed that offering "My Places" and has now launched it in mobile. My Places for MapQuest4Mobile offers a rich user experience and the ability to save maps and directions. It also provides a bridge between the mobile-PC divide by offering consistency across platforms. MapQuest4Mobile, the application, is currently available to BlackBerry devices (and free), although the company plans to roll it out rapidly to other platforms includin [...]


ComScore To Report Google Maps Now Number 1

Forthcoming January traffic data will reportedly show that Google Maps has taken the lead from MapQuest as the top mapping site in the US. According to the numbers that I received (I've asked comScore to verify), MapQuest's January monthly unique visitors were 41.5 million and Google's were 42.2 million. This is the first time that Google Maps has overtaken MapQuest. However my source said that time on site/engagement, as reported by comScore, is still greater for MapQuest than for Google Maps. In some respects we have been anticipating this event for a long time, ever since Google remo [...]


BlackBerry Mobile Bonanza: Microsoft Launches Live Search, Google Introduces New Search Client & AOL Launches MapQuest 4 Mobile

At the CTIA wireless trade show today Microsoft announced an extension of its existing relationship with BlackBerry maker RIM. Previously Microsoft released special versions of Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Hotmail for the BlackBerry. The Live Search downloadable client was also available for Blackberry. However today the company announced that Live Search will be available on the BlackBerry home screen (no download required). Yesterday Google announced a new live search downloadable client for the BlackBerry. MapQuest also introduced an improved mobile client for BlackBerry devices [...]


AOL Unveils MapQuest Local, Video Search For Mobile (WAP)

MapQuest has recently stepped up development efforts, rolling out a new and improved "beta" site just a couple of weeks ago. MapQuest product VP Mark Law told me at the time that was the first of many changes and improvements to come. Accordingly, yesterday, the company debuted MapQuest Local a new "start page" (think MyYahoo or MyAOL) for local content. It features drag and drop widgets that can be customized. AOL also sees MapQuest Local as a kind of open platform that will increasingly allow third parties to distribute their locally relevant content to MapQuest's 48 million monthly users. [...]


AOL Acquires Sphere & Creates Search Interface For iPhone

Sphere, software that connects contextually relevant content to your content, has been purchased by AOL. The Sphere Blog confirms the acquisition, and TechCrunch suggests the purchase price was at about $25 million. Sphere initially launched as a blog search engine but then adapted into a "related content engine," with clients from the Wall Street Journal, Time, Reuters, and others. In other AOL news, AOL Search has created a unique user interface for searching on AOL via your iPhone or iPod Touch. iPhone/Touch users just need to go to search.aol.com and to be presented with the new user i [...]


AOL’s Big Mobile Push

Yesterday at the mobile trade show CTIA in San Francisco, AOL made a slew of mobile product announcements. The arguable centerpiece of that was the new AOL MyMobile application, not yet available. It offers considerable personalization opportunities and a Yahoo Go-like experience. The application seeks to bring together AOL desktop content and functionality in an elegant mobile package, including AOL Mail, AIM, AOL CityGuide/local search, MapQuest, Moviefone, and so on. It features "carousel" navigation like Go (as do other applications). AOL is also tying together its desktop and mobile in [...]


AOL Relaunches WAP Portal, Starts Broader Mobile Push

AOL is quickly and quietly moving on a number of fronts in mobile to establish itself as a leader. Not long after the relaunch of rival MSN's WAP portal, AOL upgraded mobile search and, last week, relaunched its WAP portal with more personalization and generally greater usability. According to this BusinessWeek article, "U.S. traffic to AOL's mobile Web site is higher than that to Google Mobile's and double that of MSN Mobile's, according to Hitwise." On the advertising side, AOL owns Third Screen Media, Advertising.com and BT provider Tacoda, which are all being integrated into the recently [...]


AOL Introduces ‘Platform A’: Integrated Ad Targeting

AOL has moved its corporate headquarters to New York to be at the center of the U.S. ad and media universe and has introduced what it's calling "Platform A," an integrated ad buying platform and network that the company says has broader reach than any other today. Advertising.com and some of the more recent AOL acquisitions, including mobile ad network Third Screen Media and behavioral targeting firm Tacoda, are being integrated to provide an impressive array of capabilities that should rival Yahoo, Google and Microsoft. From the press release: The new entity, called Platform A, will offer [...]


AOL Launches Improved Mobile Search

AOL has improved its mobile search capability, especially for Windows Mobile devices. Earlier I had incorrectly reported that there had been a full relaunch of its mobile portal. Only the search functionality has been improved and relaunched. There are now two types of search experiences: an enhanced Windows Mobile experience and a non-Windows Mobile version, which is also improved but with a slightly different presentation. AOL noticed that a disproportionate number of users were using Windows Mobile devices (and mobile search), so the company created an experience with horizontal tabs that [...]


AOL Buys Third Screen Media Ad Network

Seemingly in parallel with the land grab going on online, mobile M&A is heating up. Earlier this month, Microsoft acquired EU ad firm ScreenTonic and prior to that voice services and directory provider Tellme. Today, mobile ad network Third Screen Media went to AOL and will become a subsidiary of Advertising.com. Microsoft had been seen as a Third Screen suitor earlier in the year. Third Screen is a strategic acquisition for AOL, as mobile becomes a more important category and advertising becomes the source of more and more revenue for AOL. [...]


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