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November 28, 2005
Mapquest Going Down
Mapquest, the AOL-owned first-mover in online mapping, is about to fall.(That's their map of Cancun to the right.)
The Clue here is an AP story that looks like it was ordered-up by the AOL marketing department, but which can't resist showing cracks in the veneer.
The headline is about Mapquest pushing mobile mapping (which is good). The unwritten story is how Mapquest may be signing carriers to exclusive deals that keep rivals off, something that is possible since mobile "Internet" service is not Internet service at all, but private networks controlled by carriers.
Still, there are big problems revealed here, such as:
- Yahoo and Google now have, between them, nearly Mapquest's market share. Not good when you had a multi-year head start.
- Mapquest doesn't offer access to its code base, as those rivals do, so most exciting new applications are going elsewhere.
- Mapquest still doesn't offer satellite images. "Executives deemed them fun but not that useful." Let us decide what's useful, folks.
Mapquest may get along for a while with cellular exclusives, until mobile customers get wise to the cellular giants. In fact, carrier deals may be its one remaining advantage. Beause when compared as an offering to Yahoo, Google and even MSN, Mapquest just doesn't cut it anymore.
Where did Mapquest go wrong? The evidence is right before you. They decide what's good. They decide what's new. They decide what your user experience will be.
Wrong. We decide. You try to decide, we leave you.
And we're leaving Mapquest in droves.
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