March 19, 2010
The week started with a statement “I am going to have a Google Free week”. What did this mean, well put it simply I was going to hold back from using any of Google’s services for 7 days, explore the other side of the Interweb and see where it got me. All was fine (part from the odd hidden link from friends) till I came across this in my twitter feed: http://google-au.blogspot.com/2010/03/turn-left-at-chemist-and-ill-meet-you.html.
Yes, Google has released logo’s into the mapping interface so of course I had to check it out, forgetting about my Google free week.
With the advent of loading an icon onto a map, paying for this privilege, businesses can now stand out from the crowd, heighten themselves from the text that can sometime plague and swamp a map. Still questions are now being asked into how Google will ‘rank’ order of preference for an icon to be seen on the map and what type of business can have their logo’s incorporated into a map. Big business that would normally attract a high number of search hits seems to be where the drive is taking the Google Empire and of course along comes their wallets.
Still it is a step in the right direction and does open the door for the niche player who wants a slice of the apple pie. I can’t help thinking though, with the drive that Google has to use location data as core to its advertising empire will we all fall in line and accept Google’s data as the norm? Weigh it up:
- It is already there
- They are capturing (or licensing) new data.
- The links into the API are simple
- Mass market appeal
- Google Geocoding Engine is easy to use and links your data into their layers. (http://code.google.com/apis/maps/documentation/geocoding/)
And the list goes on……although it is that final point listed above that I believe will be key. Imagine this, I have data and I want to overlay this onto a map, Google has this wonderful tool and so I use it. Times this by all the people who collect data and there it is. All data, when captured aligned to Google’s location framework.
Have they won the positioning fight? Will all data simply use Google as a core alignment? Time will tell I guess.
Btw. In starting to use other providers in my attempt at a Google free week I was impressed with Bing and in the effort to draw in data from other sources Government still has the best quality data going!
March 4, 2010
How much power can one company have? With the news of Google being awarded their patent for embedding location into their advertising model I wonder what the future will be for businesses using ‘location’ in advertising their offerings.
Location is a core element in today’s information society and has been integral to almost all aspects of development in the past. Maps, Addresses etc.. are core in finding where I am and where I am going to. In a business sense, the location of the business is key to selling goods and services whether that location is land based or web based as someone is conducting the work somewhere.
In this time of companies being sued for patent infringement some parts of the patent lodged by Google could be questionable. For example, in a broad sense the patent secures the use of geo-information in computer systems to link a request to an output. This means that if I use my location as the core component in the search criteria to find my local coffee shops and the computer system locates these for me and details the offerings (an ad) then at that point the service I am using could be breaching the patent.
Of course the Google patent refers to the advertising model which drives the Google ads system it can be expanded across many types of service offerings. With regarding to mobile applications and the increase usage of GPS in these devices basically making them location aware, any search from a mobile device for services ‘around me’ Applications such as Walk Score, Around Me, Urban Spoon could be reigned in by Google. As real estate basis its housing advertisements primarily on address (the core location reference globally), this may be affected.
Google is keeping tight lipped on the patent at the moment and so it is with interest we watch this space. The push for location advertising kingdom looks to be between Apple and Google and so in Australia where location is embedded in everything and many companies utilise location for services it will be interesting to see how the fallout might affect us. The question I have is that if Google and others rely on the information provided by Governments and US Department of Defence for GPS then will they licence and pay a royalty on the ongoing use of this core location asset information?
It must be noted that this patent was filed almost 6 years ago and signifies that Google has the foresight to look into the long term and secure its market place and so kudus to them!
More info on the patent can be found here.
December 21, 2009
The Government 2.0 Taskforce “Mashup Australia” Competition closed some time ago and roughly 2 weeks ago the winners were announced. I have held off commenting on the winning applications due to work and a little bit of gloominess in that my help in a submission only rated 3 stars. (http://mashupaustralia.org/mashups/locate-me/)
The number of entries to the Mashup Australia competition attracted 82 entries ranging from web page mashups to mobile applications. Some were complicated and others were simple to use. A favourite of mine was the ‘Meat in the Park’ (http://meatinapark.appspot.com/) application which quite simply allowed you to find a public BBQ and invite friend so you can have a picnic. Very simple interface, rich content and specific outcome.
The winning application, the Suburban Trends mapper http://www.suburbantrends.com.au/ showed that with a little bit of effort and a focus on user design that a complicated application could be quite simple to use. This application, like so many others combined Australian Bureau of Statistics data, location services and other datasets and presented this in map form. The application took the mashup approach one step further and applied dashboard style indicators to give the user a quick overview of their desired area. Not unique in the approach although commendable in the layout, colours and use. Certainly something for all of us is to think about is the intended audience and their technology prowess (or potentially lack of). They say you only have 8 seconds to grab someone’s attention on a website so the aim is to get it right and this application gets it right and better yet it was developed by a student!
With the push to open data policies and location aware data, a very significant mashup utilised typically non spatial data and combined this with location to produce ‘In Their Honour’. This mashup is dedicated to the service men and women who fought and died for Australia by allowing the user to search for their final resting place. http://mashupaustralia.org/mashups/in-their-honour/
A very powerful mashup that is easy to see why it won the peoples award.
I commend all entries to the Mashup Australia competition and with the Apps4Gov awards in NSW and other competitions that are springing up all over the place 2010 seems to be moving towards to social mapping/media space. With data access on the increase, content and rich content is at the fingertips for anyone who wants it. The challenge moving forward is to utilise the data in such a way that makes it easy to find, use and interpret!