comScore reported that, while Internet use grew 7 percent overall in 2004, online map site traffic increased 33 percent to 51.3 million. Mapquest held a 71 percent share of the market in September, according to comScore, while Yahoo! Maps followed with 32 percent, and Google Maps with 25 percent. The overlap in use across these sites accounts for the numbers not adding up to 100 percent.
Google Maps has the most interactivity with the map itself and has recently fused the product with Google Local for more local and directory information. But it trails Yahoo! Maps, which has more local features and tie-ins with other products, and Mapquest simply because it has been around much longer. Mapping, like search, is a highly habitual online activity with which early entrants can have a signifigant edge. And, like search, gaining market share is a key part of the online mapping game because revenue potential is so closely tied to traffic. This explains the acceleration in feature development and integration over the past year.
But how to leverage these user bases in forming creative ways to monetize maps is also a key question for mapping providers. In the meantime, they want to have a solid base of users to hit the ground running when revenue models come to fruition — both online and with wireless mapping and mobile directory applications, of which mapping will be a central component.
These and other topics in mapping will be explored during the second day of ILM:05 (Thursday) in a panel titled "Maps, Mashups and Monetization."