Google Maps has had a somewhat chequered history until recently. An example of a high visibility problem was that the Golden Ears Bridge in BC only appeared on Google Maps some 9 months after the bridge had been open and almost 3 years after construction started.
MapQuest, the competitor owned by AOL, was only a little better but that was no excuse for this less than stellar performance.
Despite this, Google Maps has been showing reasonable growth.
On the Web, Google Maps drew 67.3 million unique views in February, according to Nielsen, while MapQuest tallied 24.7 million. Yahoo Local (YHOO) was third at 13.1 million.
Now in a major initiative, Google Maps has taken a commanding lead by taking Google Maps indoors.
A walkthrough of Google maps outlines what this offers
Maps aren’t only for cities and countries — they’re useful inside buildings, too. Next time you’re running through an airport or shopping in a mall, use Google Maps on your mobile phone to find a specific place or discover cool spots nearby.
The Fortune article explains why Google Maps is headed indoors
By including indoor spaces to the Android version of its Maps service, Google is positioning itself to take advantage of two concurrent trends: the spread of mobile communications and the increasing privatization of public space.
As yet only a handful of indoor venues are included: stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s (M) and Home Depot (HD); airports in Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco; transit centers and other spaces in Japan; and malls including the Mall of America outside Minneapolis.
Any other private indoor space can provide the information to be included and the maps are 3-dimensional so it is possible to find your way around on any floor of a multi-floor building. Clearly this will meet a real need since you can identify where you are in a building via your smartphone. As yet it is only available on Android phones but an iPhone application cannot be long in coming.
Chapeau, Google, indoor Google Maps will prove to be a real winner without a doubt.