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Thursday, June 9, 2005

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Taking the Google thread in a new direction, check out this CNN article. Competition has quickly found the corner of the Internet devoted to online maps. Mapquest and Yahoo are prominent examples, but there are dozens of options and early this year Google jumped into the fray. What is new? Well the ever-industrious denizens of cyberspace (long time since you saw that word) have figured out that the Google map tools are easier to hack and subsequently marry to other databases. The result is homegrown locational tools to guide people in tight housing markets or away from urban crime patterns. Read the story for more details and pay attention to the following passage:

All these sites are operating without Google's permission, clearly violating the company's user agreement. But none charges any fees, and Mountain View-based Google, which declined to comment through a spokesman, has made no effort to shut them down.

"Why would they?" asks Kenneth Tan, who works for a Chicago-based media research firm and is relying on Housingmaps.com to find a new place in New York. "This is fantastic publicity for the company."

It generates more than publicity for the company, it is also a growth strategy. Not so long ago Microsoft utilized a similar strategy for independent software writers and its operating system. The result was impressive market share and a host of public policy headaches. Maybe Adam is on to something; my bet is that before "Old Media" is released from regulatory shackles "New Media" like Google will come under withering pressure to acquiesce to their own undoing.

posted by @ 2:51 PM | Antitrust & Competition Policy , Innovation , Internet , Interoperability , Software

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