The long-awaited launch of local business search functionality for Google Maps Australia happened earlier this week, as reported by The Australian.
According to the article:
“The latest competitor to the established players, to be known as Google Maps, will directly target customers of Telstra’s highly profitable Yellow Pages directory business. It will include map and satellite images, Australian business listings, driving directions and support for Google Maps for mobile phones. Senior product manager Carl Sjogreen told The Australian that Google Maps had been in development for two years to expand the functionality for search.”
Its new partnership with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. gives the local search-enabled Google Maps product a strong competitive standing. Google Maps now has access to the entire database of News Corp.’s Truelocal product, which launched last year. While Truelocal has struggled to make its own way, combining its database of both paid and unpaid listings from across all of Australia certainly enhances the Google Maps position.
As the first major competitor for Sensis’ popular online product, Google, backed by News Corp., will certainly be felt in the competitive online marketplace in Australia. While no announcements have been made regarding a local sales force to sell Google Maps, it seems logical that News Corp. will step into this role, leveraging its existing advertiser relationships. With much of Telstra’s growth tied to the success of Sensis’ online offerings, expect competition between the two to be intense.