10 Takeaways on Mapping from Where 2.0

1. Maps are the height of the data pyramid. Once they’re populated, everything else (i.e. local search) gets easier.

2. 3D CityScapes are a big part of the future, and will drive new types of ecommerce. This is the expensive battlefield that Microsoft and Google are playing on. The end game isn’t to be the destination site, but the platform for thousands of developers.

3. It doesn’t happen overnight. The Cityscapes are likely to be siloed products, with relatively small market share to start. Smaller, pocket-sized versions of them will appear on other parts of the Web. Indeed, bigger isn’t generally better. On many sites, maps should get smaller before they get bigger. It is the other content that will drive repeat usage.

4. 3D Maps are eye-grabbers that will steal attention from everything else. There’s no going back to simple maps. Expect Yahoo,Ask, MapQuest and others to get into the 3D game too, despite a current focus on social integration of their simpler maps with strong tools.

5. Anybody who focuses on maps needs to also focus on the other parts of The Mashup. Look for more of an emphasis on integrated data, local search, User Generated Content and video in coming months (i.e. enhanced Yellow Pages, articles, reviews and promotional clips).

6. Virtual gaming, simulated worlds (I.e. Second Life) and maps also need to be talked about in the same breath, since they draw on the same data sets. Expect to see simulated “trips,” “shopping excursions” and other apps in the next generation. The Knight Foundation’s funding of several simulated environments (i.e. Paul Grabowicz’s re-simulation of the 1950s Oakland Jazz scene) is likely to prove prescient as a harbinger of the new news. Ditto for Microsoft’s funding for XBox.

7. The next generation of ecommerce mapping is squarely focused on store layouts and other inside apps. People buy more when they know where they’re going. They’ll back up the store locater/storefront images being developed by Google, InfoUSA, TeleAtlas etc. New camera mounted vehicles and immersive technology will drive this environment, which is going to be 100 percent improved from what we saw with A9’s street view just a couple of years ago.

8. Maps for mobile devices are as important to this environment as anything else (as amply demonstrated by Google Map Chief Mike Jones, demoing a mapping app on Apple’s iPhone to the “oohs” and “ahhs” of the audience. (Sure, I want one, too).

9. As Google and other sites start to place maps and images at the top of the page, they need to make sure they don’t devalue paid advertisers that are used to “owning” the position. Look for new types of contextual placement.

10. O’Reilly’s Where 2.0 conference has been “Mapping Central” for four years now. This year, it got 800 people. It is a great, unique event. But expect its focus to get increasingly broader as it tries to stay ahead of industry trends. For sure, the developers that have been its mainstay audience are sad to see it becoming more “corporate.” Even “the suits” say it isn’t as much fun (although time well-spent).

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