Friday, 23 November 2012

Street Map squeezed out by Google monopoly?

I was recently contacted by the company Street Map, commenting on a debate I held on Google in Westminster Hall a while ago. This was completely unsolicited and I have had no dealings with this company in the past.

The debate was incorrectly reported as me wanting to somehow restrict Google, or as a judgement on the quality of Google in relation to its market position. In reality I was raising questions which have also been raised and are currently being investigated at the EU Commission in terms of competition, and the preference Google gives to its own products.

One interesting point the company shines new light on the idea that Google Maps’ market dominance is solely based on the superior quality of the product.

Between 2005 -2007 Streetmap was still growing at 10 percent per year. Larry Page of Google said recently of the AOL maps program "People said, 'there's MapQuest ... No one uses them anymore". However Mr page neglected to mention that in 2005 -2006 traffic to Google maps halved: http://www.experian.com/blogs/hitwise/2006/05/22/mapquest-google-and-yahoo-maps-the-brand-issue/

Moreover, other sentiments have been expressed by other Google Executives, such as Marissa Mayer, who stated rather explicitly that they favour their own products: "So we had the five top finance sites in their order of their popularity listed there. We roll out Google Finance, we did put the Google link first. It seems only fair, right? We do all the work for the search page and all these other things, so we do put it first… But that has actually been our policy since then because of Finance. So for Google Maps again, it’s the first link." (available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT1UFZSbcxE#t=44m35s)

Street Map inform me that their takings dropped 40% that month, and that their takings are now only around 15% of what they were in 2007.

An interesting development – particularly regarding Google Maps – is the decision of Apple to remove Google as the provider on its Maps App, and replace it with its own Apple Maps. This adds a whole other dimension to this debate.