New Google Maps Maker Has Mashup Makers On The Run

from the do-it-yourself dept

Today, Google announced a new service called My Maps that makes it easy for anyone to build their own Google map for things like “favorite barbecue joints in Texas” or “best art galleries in New York”. It’s already generating an enthusiastic response, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if it became a popular service, since most people don’t already know how to build their own. There are, however, some startups that are focused mainly on letting people build their own maps, and there’s some concern that Google’s entry into this space (if it can really be called a space) will destroy these startups. The sentiment is that Google shouldn’t be killing off an ecosystem that was built around a platform it created. Of course, most users of the internet have never heard of companies like Platial and Frappr, which help users build their own Google Maps. With Google’s announcement many more people are now aware of this capability, which is definitely a good thing. If these companies can’t survive now that Google has introduced this, it underlines the danger of building an entire company as a feature on top of another service. Ultimately, it’s not even clear that Google’s move represents instant death for anyone. If these startups are able to continue to innovate around the idea of maps and location based services, Google’s rudimentary offering shouldn’t be a problem.

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Comments on “New Google Maps Maker Has Mashup Makers On The Run”

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Paul says:

Bad analogy time!

This is kind of like if someone opened up a hotdog stand somewhere and only sold hotdogs.. then someone else set up a lemonade stand right next to it to sell drinks to the thirsty hotdog eaters.. what is the smart thing to do? well the hotdog stand owner started selling lemonade along with the hotdogs.. people would rather order once than twice so naturally no one went to the lemonade stand.

Was the hotdog owner in the wrong for destroying “an ecosystem” that he himself created?

Direct Textbooks (user link) says:

Mashups is not automatically a business

If you are relying on other services to power your own (I do) you had better come up with a unique proposition and a backup plan if they cut you off.

If not, what you have is simply not a business. It’s a project, it’s a hobby, but it’s not something you are building to last when it’s built on someone else’s whim.

Google using its own maps is nothing compared to when they just discontinued a bunch of SOAP services earlier this year. Just ended them altogether. My spelling correction stopped working, and I had to come up with something else.

Anyway, just irritating sometimes when people build something on a free service then get upset when it disappears– Google would be being evil to its shareholders to not take advantage of its position as much as it can.

Luistxo Fernandez, Tagzania (user link) says:

Tagzania thinks positively about My Maps

I see this as a positive move towards a wider adoption of the concept of “personal geography”, which I think is an idea not very much extended among mainstream Internet users, and we see opportunities there for Tagzania, one of those social mapping apps.

It’s also interesting to see Google catching up with concepts that we had clear when we launched in 2005: create your maps, adopt GeoRSS… Obviously, we have to push further, being ahead of Google is like an interesting challenge.

On the business level, others will feel more pressure. Ours is a side project for a small company, sustainable so far, and feeling no pressure from investors or the bubble-burst-buzz around. Our focus is strengthen the features of Tagzania to better please users, and don’t care much about Techcrunch gossip or how others may be sweating. As for the big actors, Google, Yahoo: We see their adoption of standards as a positive move, and the availability of APIs and web resources that precisely those giants are pushing, that’s only good news for us. Then they add direct services that start-ups have imagined first, but, of course, we know that’s going to happen some day, with this, that and many other things. But ther’s room for niches and tailored community websites or services, no doubt about this.

mal says:

“If these companies can’t survive now that Google has introduced this, it underlines the danger of building an entire company as a feature on top of another service.”

As someone who looked at building a site and service around Google maps some time ago, I seem to recall that most of the services Google offers are usually still considered in beta, and that commercial use of those services may be subject to restriction and limitations.

In any case, building a business model on fluid, changing software tools that are still evolving is a road ripe with potholes, detours and dead ends. A best case scenario for most of these services you’re talking about was probably to hope to be bought by Google. Any hopes of building a profitable business otherwise would have to factor in the reality that they’d eventually be expected to license commercial use of the services.

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