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Last week we had the chance to speak with MapQuest about a series of upcoming announcements (then under embargo). The first of those happened late last week with the company’s mobile search platform enhancements.

Today MapQuest announced the release of its latest API for businesses and third-party developers to build mapping mashups. As has been proved in the online mapping space, this form of open source development leads to a great deal of innovative applications for the products, many of which admittedly couldn’t be thought up nor developed by the mapping providers themselves, due to resource constraints and perspective.

Microsoft recently did this with its new Virtual Earth 3-D and has done the same with Windows Live Local, as other major mapping providers have done. MapQuest has a commanding market share lead in online mapping and will leverage its brand equity to push out the product further with this API availability.

The latest version of the API includes Ajax functionality, such as dragging and panning and features, which are now table stakes in online mapping. The company hopes businesses in real estate, retail, hospitality, healthcare, transportation, insurance and banking verticals will use this to integrate mapping and location-based services into their existing customer facing Web and wireless applications.

We’ll provide more on both of these announcements and comments from GM and VP Jim Greiner in this week’s issue of Local Media Journal.

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