TIM FAULKNER — It appears Microsoft, with their "coincidentally"-timed press release announcing 3-D imagery in Live Search, was hoping to steal some of Google's thunder earlier today since it was widely speculated that Google would be announcing new features today at Where 2.0, the location-focused conference. Word of Google's Street View and a beta of Mapplets, map widgets, has largely negated that preemptive press strike.
However the tit-for-tat plays out, both companies are attempting to address many of the same potential feature add-ons to web-based mapping. Google had already featured some 3-D buildings with future enhancements likely based on recent licensing deals. Microsoft had already revealed a competitor to Street View as a beta preview, both of which are enhancements to A9's earlier photo-enhanced maps. Google's recently announced My Map's competes with Microsoft's Map Collections.
The battle for mapping supremacy continues with the rush to add new features. Unfortunately for Microsoft, being first has not been a valued differentiator. In most cases, Google's implementation is cleaner and more thoughtful (compare Street View's slick in-map photo views with Microsoft's silly car-based metaphor) and/or goodwill and search supremacy has carried it to broader adoption and press coverage.