July 25, 2005 11:24 AM PDT

Google ups ante in mapping rivalry

In the fast-moving war over localized search, Google wasted no time on Monday responding to Microsoft MSN's Virtual Earth test site with a new "hybrid" site of its own that lets people see an aerial view of a location with superimposed road maps.

"Can't decide between looking at a map of your house or a photo of your house? See both at once with Google Maps' new Hybrid mode, available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Japan," Google's blog says.

The new Google Hybrid map page lets users see map data, such as street names, on top of satellite photos of the locations they search.

Earlier on Monday, MSN unveiled its new Virtual Earth location-based search tool that combines aerial imagery, maps and yellow-pages data. It features a scratch pad for saving search data and a "Locate Me" feature that determines the user's location using Wi-Fi access points or Internet Protocol address geocoding.

However, as Gary Price, news editor of Search Engine Watch, pointed out, TerraFly has offered search of location with street names and other data overlayed on top of satellite imagery in the United States for years.

Google launched its 3D mapping service, which combines local search and satellite images, late last month, after disclosing the technology in April.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates previewed MSN's satellite mapping technology in May.

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are all hoping developers will create applications to run on top of their mapping platforms to attract more consumers. Google and Yahoo said they were opening up their application programming interfaces to that end, but so far Google has wooed the most code tinkerers.

The search providers are in a heated battle for the hearts and minds of the millions of Web surfers who log onto the Internet each day. Localized search is a particularly intense area of competition, with the companies racing to outdo each other in offering the slickest way to find places of interest that are nearby.


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Where does Google get its data?
I just "mapped" my neighborhood, and Google has a body of water labeled with a name that was changed at least 9-10 years ago.

Posted by poster48150 (167 comments )
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Google debuted the hybrid feature on 7/22
Google debuted its hybrid map feature mid-day friday.
Posted by (1 comment )
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MSN Virtual Earth sucks
I've tried MSN's Virtual Earth Search Product the whole day and it's very inferior to Google Maps, Google is very easy to use, no thinking, fast much faster than MSN's product and I can search all over the world, MSN has only some countries while Google Maps has several well detailed and with close pictures all around the world. Try to find the Egypt Piramids, Disneyland HongKong, Eiffel Tower on MSN?
Posted by acarlos1000 (12 comments )
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another original idea from google!
where's all the 'originality police' now? oh wait, it's not microsoft doing it so it's ok.
Posted by Sam Papelbon (242 comments )
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Let's be honest
Microsoft's long history of poor behavior is why so many people hate are angry at them... It's not really about originality or copying...

They are simply reaping what they sowed after a dozen years of bad behavior.

What >>I<< find perplexing is why some people seem to want to defend the (quite literally) Microsoft empire? Monopolies (much like tyrants) are only useful in certain situations... In all other cases they are bad for the public and the people. The reason is simple: Monopolies profit a very few at the expense of everyone else.

Unless you are a stockholder why would defend the Egyptian oppression 1000 years ago or the Natzi rule 100 years ago? All men have their day in the sun... When that day sets you will have to deal with your maker on his terms. I hope that "reaping money from the masses" is something you can be proud of when you die.
Posted by UntoldDreams (91 comments )
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