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Yahoo maps to finally offer satellite images

Yahoo's been in the mapping business longer than a lot of companies. But the Sunnyvale company has let its competitors leapfrog it in one key area - satellite imagery. That's finally changed. Yahoo's Jeremy Kreitler is announcing at SDForum tonight that Yahoo has finally added that capability to the Yahoo Maps beta, which we last wrote about here.

Yahoo says that "users can now view locations at about one meter per pixel resolution from anywhere within the United States -- from rural areas to major cities. This announcement also gives Yahoo! Maps the best medium-resolution global map data of any of the players in this space, and lets users find most cities, towns, and major land features on the planet."

What this means is that Yahoo has more roads, towns and other data to overlay on its satellite maps than its competitors.

We're ambivalent about satellite imagery. On the one hand, it's real valuable in certain situations. For instance, Yahoo is also announcing the general availability of its FareChase travel search engine, and being able to see real-world images of travel destinations could be valuable. But by and large, we find that a simple image map works great in most circumstances. Regardless, this is an area where Yahoo lagged. So it's good to see they've caught up.

Why did it take so long?

Yahoo product manager Michael Lawless says the company has been focused on "'the navigation space and the accuracy and usability'' of its current map service.

UPDATE from the SDForum event tonight: Some (presumably) good-natured snarkiness between Yahoo and Google at the event tonight. Among other things, Google's Thai Tran took a dig at Yahoo's "flashy" maps features and interface, noting that Google is more focused on the core underpinnings of its maps service. And in a demo, Yahoo's Jeremy Kreitler, who comments below, noted how the image tiles on Yahoo's satellite imagery seamlessly match each other and flow onto the web page - an apparent dig at the sometimes patchwork rendering of Google's satellite imagery. Ah competition.

Meanwhile, we've neglected to mention Ask.com, which presented tonight and has a noteworthy maps product in its own right, most likely built with far fewer resources than at Yahoo or Google. Ask's Andy Yang good-naturedly joked about following behind Yahoo and Google and learning from their mistakes.

One other point: It was mentioned repeatedly how expensive the maps data is for Yahoo and Google, and that is why some services are not made available through APIs. One audience member wondered why Yahoo or Google doesn't just buy maps data company Navteq, and lock out competitors. But as Tran noted, with a nearly $5 billion market cap, Navteq would be a rather pricey acquisition.

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yahoos maps blows google away. at least 2x.

I think google is going to get picked apart piece by piece.

they cant be good at all things.

victor on April 11, 2006 8:51 PM
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Mike, thanks for your comments on our new imagery program. Over the past months we've been busy introducing only-at-Yahoo Maps features such as multi-point driving directions, traffic content, and send-to-phone, to name a few. Users have thanked us profusely for these useful enhancements.

Now we're happy to be adding satellite and aerial imagery to the mix, and integrating it into useful tools like Yahoo! Travel's Farechase service. So, for example, travelers can see whether that inexpensive Maui hotel *really* is a beachfront property.

Jeremy Kreitler on April 11, 2006 9:15 PM
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Google are trying to take over in every field. And doing quite a good job.

But there will always be something that comes along that is better.

web design london on April 12, 2006 5:46 AM
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I tried comparing Yahoo! maps beta and Google(test case apartment complex: 777 West Middlefield Road, mountain view, ca). Google maps has better resolution(zoom-in) than Yahoo!. Am I missing something here or its just a bad test case(HQ of Google being in Mtn View :))?


Reddy on April 12, 2006 6:42 AM
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I can't stand Flash, so I prefer Google Maps. If you can do it with pure coding, why use "flashy" browser plugins...

Haydur on April 12, 2006 8:14 AM
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Reddy, I got the same result with a test of an apartment complex in Akron, OH. In fact, I took screen shots, and layed them over each other in photoshop, and all of the parked cars were in the same spot in both pictures. So it looks like google gives you a better zoom, but it's the same data (at least for this small area). It's hard to make the argument that you've got better resolution if you're using the same data.


P.S. If you want to see the layered image, it's here:

KevinQ on April 12, 2006 8:23 AM
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I recently noticed that Ask has quietly launched a very impressive maps application. Some unique features include a live "play directions" feature, mapping multiple destinations, scroll wheel support, and double-click to center, all in a very responsive interface. You can check it out here:


RamiB on April 12, 2006 8:43 PM
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There's not only Navtech to buy, but also TeleAtlas, another Company worthy lot of money. I could say it's not a good deal that deal when "to acquire" takes the last word, shutting off mouths. Every mobster had had money to "acquire", but ideas and projects, when big, shall not fall easily down in mobster's hands. This is more a civilization issue than a technology or business issue. We must be very careful about it: some things must grow, not "to be bouhgt". Maybe in connection with, or shared with who has the money at hand.

"poli" is a project based on maps that struggled, being online from April 2000 as trailer. Now it is ready and maps are more impressive than the squared sliced maps sent off since now by Google Yahoo or others. It's based on Java by Sun, a Sunnyvale Company, but I hope Sun wants not ride the rodeo of who's the most big in the planet, without jeopardizing its postiton. So I hope Sun will be fair.

Detail on maps is a simple optional (hurting many, when no requested by who's zoomed on). The grid is the invariant, where users will draw on the blackboard where they are located.

Now the project is under way supported by an innovative place in northern Italy, called Friuli-Venezia Giulia. I ask you, Silicon Valley readers, to not forget, whether you are Google or Yahoo, or what else, I set this way from since the year 2000, and paid high to get it running. I want to move it running to the U.S. next soon, using a U.S. domestic Company to deploy "poli" in its full applications.

Please take you note of this, don't think the "city by maps" was born there or will do it near you. It is coming from here. Upon my name.

Thank you, my best wishes.

Franco Cumpeta

"poli" Inc. Director

Franco on April 13, 2006 7:29 AM
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