Friday, July 28, 2006

Google Mixes Traffic Updates Into Mobile Maps App

CRM Buyer writes that Google (GOOG) has begun "offering mobile phone users in more than 30 major metropolitan areas the ability to view highway maps with live traffic updates."

According to the article, the Google Maps app will send the most up-to-date traffic information "to the users' mobile device, and will highlight the conditions on the covered commuter routes using red, yellow, and green overlays. When mobile phone users search for driving directions, they will now see the expected drive time as well as any unexpected traffic delays. Mobile users will also have the ability to store their favorite searches and driving directions, allowing them to access frequently used routes and compare traffic conditions."

Weston Henderek at Current Analysis thought "Real-time mobile traffic solutions are in demand and Google's application is certainly solid, but that combination doesn't guarantee a successful product." He said, "If Google does not have partnerships with any of the leading wireless carriers in the U.S., then they will just be duking it out with a bunch of other companies that offer similar application. That will make it difficult to drive usage in the market."

Henderek pointed out that "wireless applications like Google Maps for mobile are driven by ease of use. Users want access to information with one or two clicks from the carrier's deck. Until Google can strike a deal with a Cingularor Verizon Wireless (VZ). Until then he thought the announcement was "media fluff."

fRegarding Google's other announcement that "users can now customize the content that appears on the mobile version of their Personalized Homepage," Henderek said, "Search engine companies have very similar content. Consumers don't really care where the content is coming from. They care about how easily accessible it is on their mobile phone."