MSFT Makes The Big Apple Searchable in 3-D

Microsoft announced this morning from the Where 2.0 conference that it will add New York City to the list of cities available in 3-D in Live Local Maps. We wrote about 3-D mapping and its possibilities for Local in a previous post. This also follows closely behind other enhancements to Microsoft’s mapping products including 14 other 3-D cities and personalized maps.

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Virtual Earth 3-D is very robust and almost too robust for most users’ processing power and broadband speeds to handle, but it offers a glimpse of what the future could hold in online search and mapping. This has lots of ties to local online search as it is done today, and lots of interesting possibilities in light of the growing popularity of immersive virtual worlds such as Second Life (more on Second Life and local here). Most of the opportunity here is in a futuristic sense, but is nonetheless interesting.

In the shorter term, Microsoft will continue to bolster its mapping products. The opportunity is to continue to bring utility to 3-D Maps such as more integration of local data, real time traffic data (currently available in Windows Live Local) as well as other Microsoft products such as Spaces (blogging) and Messenger (IM). These could bring social dimensions to the product and create geographically relevant indexing of user generated content and blogging (see placeblogger) as well as community interactions meant to generally feed into the stickiness of the mapping and local search experience. It already does this to a certain degree with its “collections” feature.

The Where 2.0 show itself mostly takes a very technical angle at many of these issues with reletively little business model analysis, though last year there were certainly good presentations with important local search implications given by Mapquest’s Jim Greiner (speaking again this year) and Yahoo!’s Paul Levine (see last year’s writeup). I am unable to make it to the show, but will be paying close attention to announcements, including the unveiling of stealth mode startup Fatdoor. My colleague Peter Krasilovsky is in attendance and could have more to say later.

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Related: TKG report “Microsoft Virtual Earth 3-D: A New Dimension for Local” can be viewed by subscribers. The summary is publicly available here.

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