This Red Herring article examines the traffic modeling technologies being baked into the navigation systems of Tele-Atlas and Navteq. These are mostly in-car nav systems, but since these two companies are the primary data providers for every major online mapping provider, traffic modeling could be the next feature we see in portal mapping releases.
Microsoft has already done this in its most recent Windows Live Local release. It has limited U.S. coverage but could be a powerful tool for commuters when it becomes more widespread, given that it includes real time flow and incident data. And the mapping feature development among portals has been rapid and highly competitive over the past year (much like it has been for portals in general).
The name of the game has been to roll out features to attract users and gain market share, which will be monetized when ad models begin to be integrated (and also to boost portals’ overall brands). The makings for ad models are starting to be seen, and we’ll no doubt see more as the overall online mapping space still has lots of room to grow.