This Year, NORAD Tracks Santa With Microsoft & Bing, Not Google
Google has been helping the popular NORAD Tracks Santa site locate Santa Claus on Christmas Eve since 2007. But this year, Jolly St. Nick will be tracked on Bing Maps, not Google. NORAD is also pushing an official Windows 8 app. It part of Microsoft being the new lead partner for the site.
NOTE: If you’re looking for the latest information on Santa tracking for the current year, see our Your Guide To Santa Trackers page.
NORAD Tracks Santa has a new “team” page listing corporate sponsors. Microsoft tops the list; Bing Maps is prominent and Google is nowhere to be found:
Bing Maps Bumps Google Maps
This year, NORAD is saying on its Track Santa page that Bing Maps will be used on Christmas Eve for 2D views. For those who want the 3D-style experience Google Earth offered, the new partner for that is Cesium (instructions on preparing your browser for tracking with Cesium are here).
NORAD Gets Own Mobile Apps Rather Than Google Maps
Last year, NORAD didn’t push its own mobile apps, instead sending people to simple search for “santa” using Google Maps on their phones. This year, NORAD Track Santa is offering apps for Windows Phone, Google Play and iPhone/iPad/iOS, along with a Windows 8 app. Note how Windows Phone gets listed first among the icons at the bottom of the Track Santa page:
It’s a pretty big win for Microsoft and should give its products greater exposure, though I’m kind of sad that NORAD Tracks Santa is now developing into a service that corporations are clearly fighting over to sponsor. But I love the service, and if it helps support it, cool.
YouTube Remains Favored
Google’s not completely out, however, thanks to Google-owned YouTube. Despite not being a sponsor, NORAD Tracks Santa is still pushing its YouTube channel:
NORAD Tracks Santa also lists the YouTube icon at the bottom of all its pages, ahead of and next to icons for its Facebook and Twitter accounts, as you can see in the lower-right corner of the screenshot above. Yes, the Google+ page NORAD created last year is still up and active. It just doesn’t get icon promotion.
I’ve asked Google, NORAD and Microsoft about the change and will update if I hear more. Microsoft’s been pretty low-key about it, posting yesterday that:
This year Microsoft is partnering with NORAD to make following the big red sleigh easier than ever. The Santa Tracker tool is built on the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud computing platform and Bing Maps, and anxious kids can even track Kris Kringle on Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps.
The remainder of the post is actually from NORAD, explaining how the missile tracking organization got into watching for St. Nick.
I’ll do my annual rundown on how the service is operating when it goes live on Christmas Eve. There will obviously be some differences from last year, though much will be similar — so my post from last year still works as a preview: Where’s Santa Claus? The 2011 Santa Tracker List, From NORAD To Your Phone!
Postscript: NORAD sent me this statement:
Google supported NTS [NORAD Tracks Santa] from 2007-2011 and helped increase NTS program awareness across the globe; NORAD is grateful for the partnership and the resulting success. This year, NTS and Google mutually agreed to go in new directions, and we are excited to welcome a number of new contributors, to include Microsoft, Windows Azure, Bing, and iLink-systems, among others, to help us in our mission of tracking Santa. The ability to work with a diverse team of contributors is fundamental to the NTS mission, and we appreciate all of the continued support of all contributors.