The new My Maps feature at Google — you can annotate and create your own customized maps — is slick, and something I was recently looking for. But the niftiest aspect of the new feature is how Google has integrated personalized maps into Google search results as just another form of local content. As Brady says, that’s much more interesting than mere annotation.
More broadly, is this an example of Google doing a Microsoft? Back in the bad days when Microsoft decided to beat up a would-be competitor it would release the product itself, while integrating it into the operating system (c.f, Internet Explorer). Given that the Google operating system is really search results themselves, how is releasing new features like My Maps (a service that compete directly with existing products like Platial and Frappr), and immediately adding all geo-indexed pages to local search, any different than what Microsoft used to do?
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s a fine thing to make new content searchable. I just wonder if we’re not seeing the early stages of how lock-in via the Google search o/s will work.
[Update] Had an email conversation with a Google representative on this subject today. The gist: Google is not giving preferential search-ability to its own KML files. Platial and other KML files will be searched and ordered algorithmically, with My Maps not ahead in the queue.
Fair enough, that seems a reasonable way to do things. I still think that immediate data availability in Google search is one of the keys to understanding how non-traffic lock-in might work in a Google search O/S, but my musings here about search-specific lock-in have turned out to be more hypothetical than Google My Maps-specific.
On the other hand, this is still an example of Microsoft competing with its own supposed ecosystem. Granted, annotated maps are a nice feature, but what’s the incentive to spend money building on Google’s API if you’re just going to get creamed? Shades of Microsoft? You bet.