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Yahoos New Pretty Maps Are Doomed

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Has Google disrupted the businesses of Yahoo and Microsoft? Yes! It got me out of bed to write this post.

No, that’s not the disruption I’m talking about (I’ll hopefully be able to take a couple of days off of blogging unless someone else announces something cool between now and the weekend).

To see how you don’t need to look any further than the rejuvenated mapping world.

First, congrats to Yahoo. The new map service you guys made is really killer. Inspiring, even. Here’s TechCrunch’s revealing of it. Here’s Yahoo’s blog about it.

But, it’s doomed. So is our Virtual Earth.

Why? Cause we don’t even realize that Google is playing in the Superbowl and left us playing for the high school championships. It’s nice to win the high school championships, but it isn’t close to the Superbowl.

Now, those are heady words. But, to see just how much disruption Google is wacking us with let me take you to Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto. Now, you might not know about Sand Hill Road. But, it’s where the world’s top venture capitalists are. You do not get an address on Sand Hill Road without understanding how to build a profitable business.

Last week I visted a few startups on Sand Hill Road. One was Zvents. I’ve written about them before.

I want you to visit them again. And again. And again. Until you understand the new Google gold rush that’s underway.

Hint: Yahoo and Microsoft’s employees need to get this.

What do they need to get?

That it’s not about maps, it’s about the advertising platform that Google has built. It’s not about prettiness, it’s about who has the most user generated content (I still hate that term).

Huh?

First, let’s focus on the advertising platform component of how Google is disrupting Yahoo and Microsoft.

Google pays Web site owners MAJOR DOLLARS to put its advertising component (er, service) on its Web site.

Visit Zvents. Click on one of the featured events.

See the Google ad component there?

Now, tell me again why that can’t be a Yahoo or Microsoft ad component?

I’ll tell you why. Google’s ad component pays better because of its dominance in search (and, because they told all the banner advertising people and companies to screw off and die – they understood that users will click on blue underlined text and are being rewarded for that understanding).

Quick, what else do you see on the Zvents page?

I see a Google map. With a Google logo.

What don’t you see? No Yahoo map. No Yahoo logo. No Microsoft Virtual Earth map. No Microsoft Virtual Earth logo.

Disruption!

But, it gets worse. Let’s head over to the Yahoo Maps API page. Damn, they’ve done a nice job. It’s clean. It’s easy to understand. It’s sexy. But only until you get to the bottom of the page. Look for “Rate Limit.”

Disruption!

What is there? Here, I’ll copy and paste the text for you. “The Yahoo! Maps Embeddedable APIs (the Flash and AJAX APIs are limited to 50,000 queries per IP per day and to non-commercial use.”

Aha! Yahoo has bean counters too. Don’t feel bad Yahoo. They run the place here at Microsoft too. But, they don’t get what Google is doing to them.

Google is building an advertising platform. It is disrupting our businesses. And we’re letting them do it.

Now, convince Zvents to take that Google Map off of their page and put a Yahoo one (or a Virtual Earth one). Hint: they won’t do it. Why? For two reasons:

1) The Yahoo and Virtual Earth licensing terms keep them from putting the map next to a Google advertising component.
2) There’s a perception that Google will treat companies who stick with all of its components better (maybe by giving a discount in the future, maybe by serving out better ads, maybe, by, alas, making both components better through using attention data!
3) They know that putting Google logos on their site is “cooler” and “more buzz generating” than putting Yahoo or Microsoft logos on their site (and they’d be right, heck, I work for Microsoft and I’m talking about their site).

But, it gets worse for Yahoo and Microsoft. Why?

User generated content. Yes, I still hate that term. But it’s key to how to build a very profitable and sticky business.

I believe Google is going to get there first. Why? Just because they have a development model that lets them move very quickly and get stuff out the door faster than Microsoft or Yahoo. Why do I believe that? Past behavior. Google had its new UI out months before Microsoft and Microsoft had its new UI out months before Yahoo.

Disruption!

So, now, Google will not only have a great advertising platform in place, a great mapping component (I still like it better than Yahoo’s, by the way), but you’ll be seeing that component improve right in front of your eyes through the addition of user generated content. What do I mean?

Well, let’s say you know my favorite Sushi place in Bellevue WA. Here it is on Google’s map. By the way, Google’s map found it INSTANTLY while Yahoo said there were no sushi places in Bellevue. Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, by the way, found it too!

Now, let’s say I want to put a photo of the front of the store on the map for you to see. Let’s say I also want to take pictures of the menu. And write a little review.

Wouldn’t that make the map more useful? It would.

More disruption ahead!

So, what can we do to disrupt Google?

Clone the Google API!

Make it possible to take the Google map out of that page and put in a Microsoft or Yahoo one (and keep it next to a Google AdSense bar). That will require telling the bean counters to sit down and be quiet. That won’t be easy. Like I said, they run the world, and we are rapacious, greedy, businesspeople who don’t like to share a service that costs tens of millions of dollars). Google knows this and is laughing all the way to the bank.

Clone the Google API, RossCode says. Clone the Google API, Geek News Central says. Clone the Google API, David Mercer says. Clone the Google API, Alex Barnett says. Clone the Google API, the blogosphere says.

Disruptive!

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Robert Scoble is the founder of the Scobleizer blog. He works as PodTech.net’s Vice President of Media Development.

Go to Scobleizer

Yahoos New Pretty Maps Are Doomed
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