Yahoo! Maps – a rival for Google?

Since Google released their maps/local product on the world, they have really ‘owned’ the space. The Ajax word has become common parlance, and we’ve all learned to expect a lot more from our browsers.

Microsoft brought out their Live Local product in an attempt to rival Google. It is good – slicker than google, but somehow misses on so many levels – I haven’t seen the stats, but I suspect it’s bombing badly – Google still get all the press.

I was prepared for another disappointment from Yahoo! Maps, but then again – maybe not! Yahoo Maps falls somewhere in between Google and Microsoft. It’s slick, but doesn’t feel kludgy. They haven’t (for now) gone directly after Google on the high res photography, instead trumpeting the ‘best medium resolution coverage’ of the world. Couple that up with good to basic road and placename data (even in Australia!) and a really neat little navigation widget, and you’ve got an overall package that is quite fun to use. It’s still full of bugs – when I ran a ‘mass transit’ search in Eastern China, the map jumped me to San Salvador – but overall, this is a promising start.

Yahoo are making a concerted effort to move in on the Web2.0 marketspace, with the aquisition of Flickr and For early adopters of these services, it’s a bit disoncerting to see your favourite web turf go so mainstream, but this latest offering makes it look like they are prepared to keep it fun. Stay tuned!