We’re more than two years in with street-level photography, although Google was the only game in town for most of that time among the majors. There were also less-well-known independents such as Everyscape and MapJack. Then two weeks ago, Bing made a big splash with a very enhanced Silverlight version of Bing Maps and national coverage with its Street Side imagery.
MapQuest for years had been the leader in Maps and it’s still the top search term in Travel according to Hitwise. But in February of this year Google passed MapQuest to become the top mapping site for the first time. Throughout the rest of the next several months it seemed to trade the lead back and forth with Google. However Google has now established what appears to be a stable traffic advantage over MapQuest.
With the intention of closing some of the feature gaps that had opened up between MapQuest and rivals Google and Bing, the AOL-owned site has introduced “360 View” in 30 cities and 15 suburbs with a promise of more coverage to come. The imagery, I’m told, is provided by Immersive Media, which did some of the early Street View photography for Google.
To initiate the images you check a box “360 view” in the upper right on the map. Orange shading and lines indicate where the coverage is.
While it’s a nice addition to the feature set at MapQuest it doesn’t really break any new ground and will merely keep the site in the game. It’s unlikely to reverse the trend that now exists in the market.
The question now is whether Yahoo will finally decide it needs to play this game. The original interactive mapping innovator, Yahoo opted out of the mapping arms race between Google and Microsoft some time ago and has seen its fortunes decline directly and indirectly from failing to continue to invest in the product.