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Other Map Publishers: Google

Other Map Publishers: Google

Part seven of a series on Irish Mapping: past, present & future.

To date this series has covered maps of Ireland produced by both the state and smaller publishers, mostly published in print form. We must take note now of digital maps solutions for Ireland: Maybe ten years ago several Christmas seasons were characterised by advertising campaigns for Garmin sat nav tech – ‘Give a, give a, give a Garmin’ was the hook. Google Maps & Apple Maps quickly followed and are ubiquitous now on smart phones etc whilst Garmin has taken a back seat. These routable map solutions are delivered as vector maps with search facility and turn by turn navigation. They have demolished the standard print road map market that existed since the 19th century. Every car had a couple of road maps knocking about them a few years ago.

There’s a lot of investment needed to develop, store & deliver a comprehensive road map of the world combined with services like Street View. A service which like the Google search engine is free to the public end user. Why is it free? There seems to be two related answers, firstly ‘if it’s free then you the user, are the product’ and secondly that Google Maps is the spatial glue that binds together multiple products that enables Google to make money now and/or in the future.

Advertising for example is a source of revenue for Google, we’ve all experienced targeted ads that not only relate to our interests but also relate crucially to where we live. If we purchase goods, they may be delivered by couriers using Google Maps or in the future by drones using Google Maps. We frequently use Google Maps as sat nav in cars and possibly the same map tech will be part of self driving cars under development. Likewise Google has many other strands of business opportunity and Google Maps is the spatial glue that helps bind these digital products with others.

At present Google Maps are good in developed areas for road navigation. However they are pretty useless for off road mapping or navigation. Will this change? Maybe, if there’s money to be made from it. Google would certainly have the financial power and more to follow on this.

#eastwestmapping #googlemaps #irishmaps #mountainviews #mountaineeringireland