“As human beings we inherently understand geography”

This is what John Hanke, head of the Google Earth Unit said in an article published on the Financial Times website entitled “Way to go? Mapping looks to be the web’s next big thing”. Does this explain why, as the article also states, “a map is about to become the interface to many things people do on the internet”. The big names in mapping products are racing to become the one to provide the interface for these maps and are even driving city streets to collect street level information. Some are even designing and building special cameras and flying over cities to gather 3D images.

The article explores the upcoming potential takeovers of Navteq by Nokia and TeleAtlas by TomTom and what that is likely to mean. It proposes that there is a ‘3D arms race’ in progress with Microsoft and Google competing to own this space (see link for how Earthware is using 3D models in Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth). The article, and contributors such as John Hanke, Head of the Google Earth unit and Erik Jorgensen from Microsoft explore how the combination of technologies such as 3d and mobile phones will shape the internet usage and see mapping make searching a more visual experience, especially when cross selling products.

So what is Earthware’s view? We very much agree with the premise of the article that:

· Maps provide a concrete visual representation of a context and,

· Maps allow the user to go to one place and find all the information they could want to know about it, providing a one-stop-shop.

At Earthware we are already seeing the benefits mapping solutions bring to the user. Our mapping solution for the property market has greatly enhanced the effectiveness of our clients’ website as well as the users experience as they search for property (see www.london-executive.com or www.wowproperty.co.uk for examples). With the current development of our mapping solution for the travel market (to be released later this year) we expect to see mapping solutions in all geographically based market places in the coming years, proving the value of mapping across a number of market places.

The possibilities are nearly endless for mapping and mapping products especially with new technology expanding in terms of GPS availability on phones and cameras etc. The development in mapping technologies we are seeing now are just the beginning and to be honest where it could go simply makes the mind boggle!

To read the article in full and discover just some of the mapping possibilities of the not too distance future see Financial Times and click here for more information on Earthware’s interactive mapping