Archive for the ‘Mapping’ Category

Twitter Places: Wheat/Chaff

June 15, 2010

Twitter yesterday announced Places — Tweets associated with a specific location:

Starting today, you can tag Tweets with specific places, including all World Cup stadiums in South Africa, and create new Twitter Places. You can also click a Twitter Place within a Tweet to see recent Tweets from a particular location. Try it out during the next match—you will be able to see Tweets coming from the stadium.

What’s new here is the local precision and the fact that all tagged Tweets about a place (Disneyland, Louvre, The Vatican, Angkor Wat, Tommy’s Burgers, etc.) will have a dedicated page or pages. Users will also be able to search for those Tweets much more easily than before.

In addition, Twitter Places incorporates Foursquare and Gowalla check-in information. There will also be an API so third parties can take the local Tweets and use them on their sites or build apps/tools around the content.

TomTom and Localeze are data partners, providing place and business data on a global basis (65 countries). TomTom owns TeleAtlas.

Matt McGee at SEL offers some thoughts on how this might challenge Google Places. However Google might incorporate Tweets from the API into Google Places as well.

In a presentation I did — The Revolution Will Be Geotagged — I argued that we’ve gone from a paucity of local data to a deluge. The challenge now is organizing and filtering all the location-based information coming out. That will be the challenge here too, with Twitter Places.

Make no mistake, this is a major move for Twitter and potentially one that will define its “next phase of growth.” The information generated could well be of high value to users; but there will still be a great deal of garbage in the stream as well.

There will be the “fun” and informative real-time posts associated with a Place (“I’m here,” “Me too,” “Whoa, check that out”). And then there will be what we might call “utility content” — tips, reviews, helpful information that’s more evergreen. Indexing, preserving and presenting that evergreen information is what I’m talking about.

“You know what I’m sayin'”?

Third parties may actually be in a much better position than Twitter itself to organize and filter the flood of new LBS Tweets that will be generated.

Matt McGee, crediting Steve Espinoza, discusses the notion of dedicated page for locations (a la Google Places) that offers an opportunity for SMBs (and others) to claim listings and presents a structured profile. I agree. That will undoubtedly come. Either Twitter will do it itself or somebody else will. That approach could address the wheat/chaff issue.

As Steve argues in the reverenced post, it then  presents monetization scenarios for Twitter of various sorts beyond Promoted Tweets. Yet if users start to conduct local searches on Twitter because the information about locations and businesses is getting better and more useful, Promoted Tweets become very interesting in that context as well.

How all this plays out remains to be seen of course. But I regard this evolution of location on Twitter as a potentially very significant development. It will help to create a new “culture” and set of behaviors around location among Twitter users.

Twitter’s COO Dick Costello recently said that the site sees 190 million users per month (globally), who are posting 65 million Tweets daily. That makes Twitter and its UGC “firehose” a potential force to be reckoned with in local.

Local Search Ranking Factors III Now Out

June 9, 2010

David Mihm has published results of the third “Local Search Ranking Factors” survey in which he and other professional SEOs discuss the variables that affect local listing rankings, chiefly on Google. It represents a kind of consensus of highly informed (and practiced) professional opinion about local SEO.

Mihm provides a summary overview of the results on his blog. For those professionally engaged in SEO it’s invaluable. And for those even casually interested it’s worth exploring. However there is an enormous amount of detail there: more than 70 “factors” discussed at length.

Here are two lists from the survey that I found interesting:

EveryScape Integrates into Bing Maps

June 7, 2010

Using the new Bing Maps SDK, interior photography provider EveryScape has become one of the Bing Map “apps.” That means users will be able to access EveryScape interior photography on Bing Maps:

The EveryScape map app is being launched initially in Boston with other major cities becoming available later this year, and is EveryScape’s first partner-enabled visual guide for local search. Users can view the interiors of more than 500 Boston restaurants and explore exteriors for more than 1,300 in 3D. Interior panoramic imagery allows users to “walk around” as though they were there in person. Features include:

–Visual search for restaurants: Immediate visual impressions of more than 1,300 Boston area restaurants provide an idea of ambiance and neighborhood
–Plan a night out: Select a restaurant and then share it with friends
–Read reviews, menus and restaurant information: Panoramic images are augmented by the restaurant details section so diners can make an educated dining decision

EveryScape will now be one of the choices on this menu of Bing Map apps (though it doesn’t appear to be live yet):

You’ll be able to “enter” local businesses where EveryScape has photographed the interior:

Google has embarked on an initiative to photograph local business interiors for free. EveryScape charges money for the imagery. However EveryScape has been doing this for several years and has a big head start.

The company is also going to announce a range of other local partners in the coming weeks and months.

Here’s the Bing Maps blog post announcing “EveryScape Eats” and other Map apps as well.

See related posts:

NY Times’ Scoop App a Model for Others

June 4, 2010

The NY Times now has four iPhone apps: its main site, real estate, crosswords and a new city and entertainment guide “The Scoop.” In my relatively quick perusal of it The Scoop seems to be a very useful New York restaurant, bar and entertainment directory.

It uses the paper’s editorial content and selectively extracts those listings and reviews that are relevant to the app, also taking advantage of location-awareness on the iPhone. Here are some screens:

This kind of app will give UGC sites a genuine run for their money. And, as you can also see, there’s great ad inventory for contextually and locally relevant advertisers — including rich media.

Other newspaper publishers could equally create mobile apps along these lines. For example the SF Chronicle should build an app around its popular “top 100″ restaurants guide.

Citysearch Now Just One Publisher at CityGrid

June 3, 2010

Jay Herratti is now the CEO of CityGrid Media — not Citysearch. Kara Nortman runs day to day operations for Citysearch, InsiderPages and Urbanspoon, the three local properties owned and operated by the new entity CityGrid Media. There are also strategic investments in OrangeSoda and MerchantCircle.

I asked Herratti what he will be doing on a daily basis now? He laughed and said that he will primarily be helping evangelize and promote the CityGrid network and overseeing the ongoing development of its platform and infrastructure.

CityGrid has quickly emerged as the most prominent of the new group of local ad networks, which also include Where, Local AdXchange and to varying degrees LSN and Verve Wireless. However all of these are either exclusively or predominantly mobile ad networks, while CityGrid is “platform agnostic.” In addition, some of these use CityGrid to provide fill for their own networks. There’s also Google AdSense of course, as well as various more traditional ad networks that also offer geo-targeting. (Local.com’s white label IYP network is a version of this as well.)

CityGrid however is the most visible and arguably the best positioned of the bunch. It also offers the most direct alternative to Google AdSense for publishers, although CityGrid can be used beside AdSense as well.

According to the official material from IAC:

CityGrid aggregates more than 700K paying advertisers including YellowPages.com, SuperPages.com and Dex, and reaches over 140M unique users across more than 150 web and mobile partners including Bing.com, MapQuest, AOL and more.

The CitySearch sales force now becomes the CityGrid Media sales force. It will be selling Citysearch as one of many properties in a much broader network. But that pitch is not far removed from what has been going on at Citysearch for some time. And because it owns or controls a considerable amount of its own traffic, CityGrid is in a stronger position than some of its independent sales channel competitors, which must get a substantial chunk or a majority of their traffic from Google.

A couple of years ago Citysearch seemed to really be faltering vs. Yelp, which had reinvented the city guide model that Citysearch helped pioneer. But a couple of acquisitions later and with the arrival of CityGrid the business has almost been totally reinvented. And in some ways CityGrid Media has a brighter future and is now more valuable to corporate parent IAC than Ask.com.

I asked Herratti what happens if “a 100 new sites” now come at him to become part of the network? Can they integrate them? Can they control quality?

He said that developer self-service will allow publishers to join CityGrid rapidly without the bottlenecks that would otherwise accompany the process. He also said that before anyone is paid there are quality checks that CityGrid does to ensure publishers measure up.

I asked about what happens to clicks and calls that come through the system from sites that have integrated (via self-service) CityGrid content and advertisers but have yet to be “certified” officially on the network? Herratti said those are free calls and clicks to the advertiser. Until approval of the publisher site there’s no charge to advertisers for traffic or leads coming through. Accordingly Herratti said that there was lots of “free” traffic to advertisers on the network.

I questioned whether small publishers and developers “could really make a living” off the revenue generated by CityGrid. Herratti was emphatic that they could: “Absolutely.”

Herratti said that Urbanspoon was a beta partner before it was acquired and they saw the revenue being generated there. “That’s one of the reasons we decided to buy them,” he explained.

Will Yahoo Bite Local Newspapers?

June 1, 2010

Alan Mutter offers a provocative post on how Yahoo! may challenge local newspapers, who are some of the site’s primary partners:

Yahoo appears to be getting ready to produce local websites filled with original content that could compete with newspapers, posing a particular challenge to the hundreds of publishers who now sell advertising for the powerful portal.

The apparent intention to target the sweet spot for publishers was signaled last month when Yahoo announced plans to buy Associated Content for $100-ish million to gain access to some 380,000 individuals who are willing to write articles, take pictures and produce videos for rates starting at $2 per effort. The deal is scheduled to close later this year.

Insiders here in Silicon Valley say the odds are strong that a good number of those content producers will be deployed to cover local news in the hope of assembling ever-larger audiences for the premium-priced advertising that Yahoo sells via the rich user database it has amassed over the years.

No doubt some of the Associated Content writers (now indirectly beholden to Yahoo!) will cover local markets as Mutter suggests. However if Yahoo does something like MSN Local it won’t necessarily be an affront to newspapers. It could also provide newspapers with some additional distribution.

Yahoo! is unlikely to do something that would self-consciously compete with its newspaper partners. But it is true that if the company does a great job with local content sites online newspapers could suffer as a practical matter. Yahoo! has many more content and engineering assets than newspapers and has the capacity to produce sites or subdomains that are more user-friendly and utilitarian than most newspapers.

I could imagine a local content area that combines some of Yahoo! Local, with news, maps (from Nokia/Navteq) and content from other places on Yahoo! and third party sites.

Koprol & the Rise of the ‘Social Cityguide’

May 25, 2010

Yahoo! bought an Indonesian site you’ve never heard of: Koprol. It didn’t spend a lot I’m sure; the site is young and still in beta.

At a high level the site mimics the functionality of Foursquare. It’s about mobile access to local information and social content (updates, friends’ comments).

It appears to have traction in its home market of Indonesia, but will it succeed in the US and Europe? That’s not clear; but it’s a platform that Yahoo! can use and develop in a few ways. It may extend Yahoo! Local or it may exist independently. We’ll see.

Stepping back, what the acquisition reflects however is the rise of the “social cityguide,” which integrates PC and mobile with Twitter/Facebook-like update streams and brief reviews (thumbs up + “tips”). Yelp in particular will need to contend from a movement toward shorter content and away from long-form reviews.

I can’t remember who it was I was speaking with but the discussion was of Yelp as the equivalent of a blogging platform for its most active members.

Foursquare, Latitude/Buzz, AT&T Buzz, Gowalla, among others are reflective of this new trend toward a marriage of location, mobility, social and quasi-real time communication or exchange. And as the world of “local” becomes increasingly mobile this trend and the competition will intensify.

These social cityguides are potential successors to traditional sites used for entertainment-related lookups. They probably won’t be used for home services but they could take over for restaurants and select other categories. (Facebook, with its impending location launch, Q&A and Like button is lurking in the background.)

I’m not sure how it’s doing but AT&T Interactive is wise to experiment with a site like Buzz.com for several reasons. For a younger, mobile audience a yellow pages site or app will have difficulty competing with Foursquare, Yelp and this new category of social cityguides.

People often ask me what are the big trends I’m seeing in local. Well . . . this is one of them.

Nokia/Navteq to Power Yahoo! Maps

May 24, 2010

One of the aspects of the newly announced strategic partnership between Nokia and Yahoo! is that Yahoo! Maps will now be “powered by Ovi.” Ovi Maps is of course Navteq.

Here’s what the press materials said:

Nokia will be the exclusive, global provider of Yahoo!’s maps and navigation services, integrating Ovi Maps across Yahoo! properties, branded as “powered by Ovi.”

While this is consistent with Yahoo!’s efforts to outsource expensive/complex technology problems to others, in this case it solves a problem for the company. Originally Yahoo!  had been the leader in interactive mapping. Then Google and later Microsoft started pumping millions into developing their mapping products and Yahoo! consciously stopped investing. That was a blow to Yahoo! and Yahoo! Local.

This partnership will give Yahoo! high quality mapping and routing and maybe more. It won’t solve the “street level photography” issue for Yahoo! however. Apparently monetization and advertising is a TBD aspect of the deal.

I’m sure this will also be leveraged by Yahoo! in mobile and local search on mobile devices.

GoldenPages.ie Goes Real Time

May 21, 2010

Local Matters is behind a redesign (and the related plumbing) of Ireland’s Golden Pages, owned by Truvo. On the homepage there’s a feature that shows recent searches being conducted on the site in quasi-real time.:

This is the latest in a crop of directory site redesigns aiming to create more user-friendly experiences.

Unsolicited Social Media Advice for Y!

May 18, 2010

I just got off the phone with someone talking about Yahoo! and social media, and that triggered some thoughts.

Yahoo! has been involved with social media for a long time. Yahoo! Groups and Answers are two early examples. There are also Flickr and Delicious and MyWeb (shuttered). And Yahoo! Local was one of the most “robust” user-generated local review sites in the pre-Yelp era. There was also the “smart in-box” Y! Mail strategy.

Yahoo! has thus enjoyed successes as well as failures and, in my view, seen some spectacular missed opportunities.

For example, back in 2006 I suggested that Yahoo! buy a blogging platform like WordPress or Six Apart. The company offered the relatively awkward Yahoo! 360 at the time. That service was subsequently shut down. And there are other examples of Yahoo! services shuttered before their time or insufficiently supported and emphasized (Yahoo! Fire Eagle is one of those, Neighbors is another).

Putting aside the rumored attempt to buy Foursquare, Yahoo! is planning on building out its social media assets further and reportedly going to be rolling out some new things in the coming months.

I think one potential acquisition the company should consider is Multiply. Originally a social network with a rich set of tools and capabilities, the site has become primarily a media sharing and storage site for adults/parents. Kind of an anti-Facebook, it would be a solid asset that Yahoo! could use and integrate with Flickr — and Shine, as well as other properties, I suspect.

Multiply has raised about $27 million in funding and could be acquired probably for under $100 million. Clicker is another company that Yahoo! should take a close look at because it’s social and cross-platform. And in some ways it’s a model of what Yahoo!’s social media strategy should be: a useful tool or content site, with community integrated into its fabric. RedBeacon would be yet another one. But direct involvement with lead-gen might not be where Yahoo! wants to go with its local strategy.

If Yahoo! hadn’t backed away somewhat from Shopping I’d also argue the site ought to get deeper into social shopping — a place where it was an early pioneer with the now dead Yahoo! Shoposphere. This sort of thing appeals to women in particular and is a very fertile area for promotions and advertising.

I’ll add one more: Yahoo! should look very seriously at the just-launched local coupon aggregator DealMap from Center’d. CEO Jennifer Dulski was GM of Local, as well as occupying other roles at Yahoo! before she left. She’d probably be ambivalent about going back but it would be a great asset for Yahoo! both in Shopping and Local.

Finally, in addition to any new acquisitions or product offerings, the company needs to exploit its existing assets. That includes renewed attention to Local (extending into mobile) and better exploitation of Answers in mobile.

Related: Yahoo! announced the acquisition of Associated Content. Below is the press release:

Yahoo! to Acquire Associated Content

Extending Leadership in Content With the Addition of 380,000 Contributors

SUNNYVALE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Associated Content Inc. This strategic move extends Yahoo’s ability to provide high quality, personally relevant content for the benefit of more than 600 million users as well as tens of thousands of advertisers. As Yahoo! enhances its social, mobile, local, and media offerings, the acquisition of Associated Content reinforces the company’s longstanding promise to offer the best of the Web — by combining Associated Content’s approximately 380,000 contributors who provide rich and varied content on a broad array of passion points, with Yahoo’s leadership in partnering with established content brands and the award-winning team of editors and experts from Yahoo!.

“Combining our world-class editorial team with Associated Content’s makes this a game-changer,” said Carol Bartz, CEO, Yahoo! Inc. “Together, we’ll create more content around what we know our users care about, and open up new and creative avenues for advertisers to engage with consumers across our network. These are important aspects of building engaging consumer experiences on Yahoo!, and one of the reasons why we’re one of the most visited destinations online.”

“The Associated Content team and our 380,000 contributors are looking forward to joining Yahoo! and to the opportunities that being part of a global Internet brand presents,” said Luke Beatty, Associated Content founder and president. “Combining our crowd sourced content with Yahoo!’s distribution, world class editorial team and online marketing leadership will accelerate our growth as we continue to leverage our best-of-breed platform to deliver high quality compelling content on more than 60,000 topics.”

For advertisers, this deal will expand Yahoo! into more topic areas and real-time content generation. The combination promises to offer advertisers even more opportunities to engage groups of passionate consumers in ways they will find uniquely appealing to their interests and tastes. Having insight into user intent through its leading search products enables Yahoo! to identify topics important to advertisers and users. Yahoo! plans to use Associated Content to create content around those topics and leverage Associated Content to contribute content to existing media properties. Associated Content also provides more opportunities for Yahoo! to partner and collaborate with publishers who can help the company shape the tremendous variety of content coming in, into something bespoke and even more engaging.

While current Associated Content content is U.S.-centric, Yahoo! expects to scale the platform globally.

Associated Content was founded by Luke Beatty in Denver, Colorado, in 2004. Associated Content receives more than 16 million unique users per month (comScore) and the editorial staff reviews more than 50,000 pieces of content per month, including articles, images, audio and video.

Yahoo! expects to complete this acquisition in the third quarter of 2010. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Yell Upgrades Maps, Introduces Streetcam

May 7, 2010

UK directory publisher Yell has implemented a number of changes to its site, the most significant of which include new 3D maps and street-level photography. Yell worked with companies C3 and Tridoo to generate the imagery.

Right now the coverage includes London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. Like Google Street View, you can “walk down the street.” It’s enormously useful for tourists and travelers, as well as house hunters, etc.

Here’s Google, first:

Now Yell, which offers a combination of street-level images with Bing style aerial and 3D views:

Of course Bing doesn’t offer this yet in the UK. And Big G doesn’t have the oblique and orthogonal images from above.  

These new maps really transform Yell.com and pose the first real challenge to Google Maps in the UK. Overall it appears to be a terrific user experience that adds huge value to Yell.

Separately Yell has also introduced a video channel:

The introduction of a separate Yell.com video channel that will enable businesses to showcase their business in video for inclusion in our listings. Coverage is limited at first, with the majority of videos in central London. However, we have enabled businesses to upload videos for free and we will be taking steps to further promote video as a valuable part of the marketing mix for all SMEs.

Finally, they’ve introduced what they’re calling “Shortlists” (essentially favorites) to “enable consumers to create a list of favourite businesses that can be shared by e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. In addition, it will now be possible for much wider viral sharing of any video or site page, including business listing, search results, map view.”

I have written, about AlikeList, Fablistic and CityVoter in the past, that such “top lists” and favorites are extremely useful to people and create an additional source of qualitative ranking data about businesses beyond reviews.

Yell has had many redesigns and upgrades in the past few years but this both simplifies and enriches the user experience. Overall it dramatically boosts the utility of the site.

My Plan to Overthrow ‘Pizza’ with ‘Sushi’

May 6, 2010

Pizza (or plumbers) is always the local search example used in demos and discussions. My plan has been to supplant “pizza” with “sushi.” I use “sushi” in all my examples at conferences and on this blog as a “generic” local search.

If you watch this video interview with Bing’s local product head Mikko Ollila you’ll see him use the “sushi” example unselfconsciously. My (secret) scheme is working :)

Google’s UI Refresh & Local Filters

May 5, 2010

There are already lots of posts and articles discussing the update to Google’s UI this morning. Preceded somewhat by the old Ask 3D, and more directly by Yahoo! and Bing, Google is promoting a three-column format with various filters (search options) on the left.

There are a dizzying array of options and tools there (previously text, now expanded and mostly graphical). Most of this is “power user” stuff. It comes out of “Universal Search” and is a successor strategy in a way to the blended organic content Google has been displaying in the body of search results. To my knowledge all that remains as it has been and won’t change.

Danny Sullivan at SEL has a very complete discussion and roundup of all the new features. I’ve done a quick write up of the mobile version of all this at Internet2Go.

To illustrate the new look, here’s the query “solar energy” before and after (I’m not seeing it yet so I borrowed Brad Stone’s/NYT’s graphic):

But what about local? What are the local features here worth noting? Most prominently you can filter by “Maps.” Because I can’t see it yet on any of my machines, I’ll have to speculate that it simply takes you quickly into Local/Maps.

There’s also the existing ability to sort by “nearby,” based on IP address or you can specify a custom location alternatively. Those have been part of the “search options” for a few months.

However I just noticed a “social” filter, which has probably been there too. I just hadn’t noticed it. This is what my options look like for the query “sushi” (new UI not yet live for me):

Danny Sullivan mentioned that there was also supposed to be a “reviews” filter (which is not exclusively local of course). It had existed previously, but apparently “didn’t make the cut.”

If you sort by “shopping” you’ll eventually be able to get to local product inventory information. It currently exists in mobile for a small number of large retailers and will be coming to the PC.

Some time ago Google changed the name of Maps to Local and back to Maps, citing consumer confusion over the idea of “Local.” However in mobile there’s a “Local” tab, which people “get.” In a way it would be better to have a Local icon/filter than a Maps icon. You could still have the maps icon at the top of the page. Local represents a broader sent of consumer intentions and use cases than Maps. However it would be problematic perhaps for Google to develop a new local filter.

Local is really a “horizontal vertical” — a more “narrow” category than general search that also happens to be broader than any other vertical, because it contains most other verticals. How to best reflect and represent this in this new set of UI changes and filters is both a daunting challenge and right now something of a missed opportunity.

Urbanspoon Supersizes for the iPad

April 28, 2010

Urbanspoon’s new iPad app is the second entry on the new device from IAC/Citysearch. The first was the relatively undistinguished Cityseries app. But the Urbanspoon translation onto the iPad is a success.

While there’s a good deal more that can be done with the larger “real estate,” Urbanspoon has made the leap well and may reap rewards from being early in on the iPad — as it was on the iPhone (Yelp, take note).

Whereas the iPhone app is all about the “slot machine” experience, the iPad app is all about the map. The same carousel functionality exists here but it’s more discretely up at the top of the screen.

In general I find more “utility” here than on the iPhone version. And, as I said, there’s more than can be done with things like filters, favorites and neighborhoods.

For those that don’t have an iPad (yet), here’s a video of the new Urbanspoon app in action.

AR on Google Maps: Part Deux

April 26, 2010

Google started playing with “augmented reality” — I’m using the term here loosely — in the PC version of Street View several months ago, but now appears to be rolling it out more extensively. Local business listings now appear as small icons connected to their buildings in the Street View image.

The rest of this short post is on SEL.

Google Highlights In-Store Photography

April 22, 2010

As part of its “Places” announcement the other day, Google said it would come to your store, location or shop and take a bunch of interior photos — for free. Now the company has devoted a post to explaining this new initiative:

The photographs are shot by Google photographers who work directly with the business owner to arrange a time to do the photo shoot. Along with taking pictures of layout, facilities, and merchandise, we’ll also photograph displays on the storefront, like hours, rating decals, accessibility information, credit cards accepted, and posted menus — and all of this will be done at no cost to the business owner. These photos will also appear alongside the others on a business’ Place Page, and can help customers (and potential customers) get a better sense of what a business has to offer and what sets it apart from others.

As previously discussed European Directories has been doing this in Europe for some time. And Everyscape, which will soon announce interior and StreetView-like imagery with a bunch of partners, has been doing interior photography for several years. However Everyscape’s business model is based on charging for interior images. That will put some pressure on the company to find a hedge should Google Store View (not the official name) prove very popular.

This free, Google interior photography is going to be quite popular I’ll predict, and will serve to reinforce the value of Place Pages for businesses and consumers.

Buzz on Maps, Suggest Gets More Local

April 22, 2010

Google Buzz has been available on Maps for mobile devices, but now Google has made it possible to access Buzz on Maps for the PC. In addition Google is rolling out localized Search Suggest for Maps in more places around the world.

You access the “Buzz layer” on Maps by selecting more, which reveals the various places people are posting about:

Picture 90

The rest of this post is at Search Engine Land.

Google Censorship Map Launched

April 21, 2010

Yesterday Google announced a new tool called “Government Requests,” designed to show various governments’ requests for information removal from Google’s index:

We are today launching a new Government Requests tool to give people information about the requests for user data or content removal we receive from government agencies around the world. For this launch, we are using data from July-December, 2009, and we plan to update the data in 6-month increments. Read this post to learn more about our principles surrounding free expression and controversial content on the web.

Right now the tool covers  July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009 and Google says that it’s not entirely comprehensive. It shows two types of activity Data Requests and Removal Requests:

Removal requests ask for removal of content from Google search results or from another Google product, including YouTube. For purposes of this report, data requests ask for information about Google user accounts or products.

It also shows the percentage of requests that Google has complied with in each case. We can probably divide the two groups (Requests, Removals) into the “spiers” and “censorors.” 

This could form the basis of a kind of “censorship index” that gets officially reported. I think this is a great development and very useful information for people all over the globe to have about their governments. I wonder how long it will be before some start requesting the removal of or blocking this map itself?

Yellowbook First Major YP on iPad

April 16, 2010

Of course all the iPhone apps work on the iPad and there were already two “independent” yellow pages applications for the iPad. But Yellowbook is the first of the print publishers to release an app for the iPad. Conceptually speaking, it offers a similar experience to that of the company’s iPhone app.

Here’s what the press release says:

[The] Yellowbook iPad application is available for download via the Apple App Store. iPad users can now find nearly any business around the corner — or across the country — with the new Yellowbook iPad App. Its integrated information/maps split screen view — tailor-made for the iPad’s large multi-touch screen — generates results that feature expandable pushpin tags for each business. Tap a pushpin for more information on a business, read reviews, get driving directions powered by Google maps, or tap through to a business’ website. Looking for a night out? Find out what’s playing when at the local movie theater and read up on the case before making a decision.

Here are a few screens:

Caveats and first impressions:

I haven’t compared the same queries side by side on the iPhone app vs. the iPad to document all the similarities and differences. On balance there are more similarities than differences. However the UI has been adapted to accommodate the larger screen, which is significant and more pleasing to use. While this doesn’t entirely take advantage of the capabilities of the new device I would call this a good start and give it a thumbs up.

Here’s an interesting future scenario to consider: In my house let’s say I have print yellow pages, the iPhone (with YP apps), the PC — and now the iPad. Where would I go to do my lookup given access to all of the above? The iPad hands down.

The experience is better than a smartphone and more pleasing and “comfortable” than a PC. It combines the experience of having a print directory on a table or on your lap with the information depth and other advantages of digital.

Any thoughts about all that?

Bing Adding More Data to Map Apps

March 31, 2010

Bing has added yet more data to its “map apps,” including Foursquare (previously announced), Oodle classifieds and a “World Tour” app.

These apps add an interesting and useful layer to Bing Maps. They represent a version of augmented reality and offer a range of broader use cases for maps. Google has had a more basic version of this for some time but not as successfully executed.


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