Still somewhat ahead of consumer demand, Microsoft continues to build on its commitment to rich satellite and aerial imagery (in addition to 3-D) through its Virtual Earth platform (and Live Local destination). Earlier today Microsoft announced that it will integrate more than 400,000 square miles of U.S. aerial imagery into Virtual Earth, under an agreement with satellite image provider GlobeXplorer.
And earlier this week GlobeXplorer was acquired by DigitalGlobe, which is one of the primary providers of imagery for Google Earth.
The state of competition among the major Internet mapping destinations is getting more intense. MapQuest just released a new version of its mapping API for Web and wireless applications and has reintegrated aerial imagery in response to Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft and Ask’s mapping tools that include it.
According to Nielsen (November, 2006), mapping market share breaks down as follows:
- MapQuest: 68%
- Google Maps: 28%
- Yahoo! Maps: 27%
(Numbers are greater than 100% because of multiple site usage.) Nielsen says there are 42 million users of mapping sites, while comScore reports 65 million.
Maps and mapping are an area of tremendous innovation and product development at the center of local search. And maps & directions are also one of the high demand content applications, as one might expect, in mobile.