Google Inc (GOOG) Wages Preemptive War

Google Inc.Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) kicked off the first day of its annual developers’ conference with a complete overhaul of their mapping service, Google Maps. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) called the redesign a ground up overhaul of the product designed to personalize Maps.

Indeed, places that you Google for will now be shown more prominently on the Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) maps that you see. Reviews of nearby locations from your Google+ friends will also have their place on the new Google Maps. Google’s new card based interface is also making an appearance in the new Google Maps as are Google Earth features.

Individual & personal maps

Overall, this reworking of Maps is designed to provide every one of Google’s billions of searchers with real time personalized maps that adapt to not only a user’s changing location, but the changing tastes of the user.

This is, by far, the largest revamp of Google Maps since its launch nearly a decade ago. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) did stress that the new Google Maps could change as it is currently in an experimental phase that they are monitoring closely.

The new Google Maps combines location, advertising, social, and the potential for augmented reality in a single ecosystem, allowing Google to tap into a largely unseen source of advertising income and user data.

Growing competition

According to Opus Research, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) dominates the location-based search market with over 90% market share. However, there are some heavy hitters entering the location arena. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has Bing Maps, and although Bing only has 17% of the U.S. search market (which some would say is actually quite impressive), Bing Maps is used by default on all Windows Phones and by Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).

Nokia has also lent their mapping expertise to Bing Maps for services like real time traffic updates. As Windows Phone continues to slowly pick up market share (its got just over 5% now) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) continues to pump money into all aspects of their Windows 8 ecosystem, Bing Maps should continue to nip on Google Maps’ heels.

The happy marriage between Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) was recently rumored to be in a spot of trouble, this comes by way of the rumor that Facebook may buy the independent mapping app Waze. With a potential price tag of a billion dollars, this would be one of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s largest acquisitions. It would also be the largest replacement of a Microsoft service with their own, as Waze would replace Bing Maps.

The latest rumor on the deal is that the acquisition talks have hit some serious snags, but Microsoft has been warned they could lose one of their largest partners in location and mapping technology.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s mapping struggle

We’ve talked about Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), which licenses Android, and Microsoft, which has Windows Phones, and even Facebook, which with their recently launched Facebook Home and HTC First phone are coming ever closer to releasing a Facebook phone. Last is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), which recently jumped ship from Google Maps to go it alone.

This was not a smooth transition for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). Tim Cook had to issue a personal apology for the fiasco that was Apple Maps and a senior software developer on the project resigned. In fact Google Maps for iOS has become one of the top downloaded apps on iOS of all time.

But, Apple has soldiered on with Apple Maps, just like Microsoft is even though Google dominates this market. And there is a very good reason for taking this long approach. A study by Strategy Analytics estimates that location-based revenue will reach $6 billion by 2017 and all of the big mobile players are angling for a slice of that pie.

Looking at the future

Another piece of the Google Maps revamp was that ads now play a more prominent role in the service; they now get overlaid directly on the map over the location of the advertiser. Even though Google dominates this market, they are demonstrating how forward thinking they are with this overhaul of a product that was already completely functional.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is leap frogging their competition, Bing Maps risks losing Facebook as a partner, Apple Maps had a very rocky start that is still hurting their reputation, and Waze risks losing focus as acquisition talks sweep through the rumor mill.

Complete integration

Adding additional data from other Google services will make their ecosystem even stickier, preventing users from jumping ship for a taste of Apple. And even on platforms other than Android and Chrome, Google can still serve you ads and collect data to feed their never ending hunger for information.

Google executives like to say that the more people use the internet, the more Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) wins. The new Google Maps will become one more example of that.

The article Google Wages Preemptive War originally appeared on and is written by David Danna.

David Danna has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Facebook, and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. David is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network — entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

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