Man, talk about a kick in the groin. Over the past few months, Google has been happily providing a Google Maps API to any developer that asked, and encouraging them to create mash-ups (ie. add their own useful content) of the mapping search technology.
Little did these poor unsuspecting fools realize, Google was sitting back and watching to see whether the mash-ups would be popular or not, effectively using the external developers as free labor. The proof comes with Google’s announced launch of My Maps, which allows any regular Joe to create custom maps for sharing tips or annotating Google Maps.
My Maps users can:
- Mark locations on a map from a library of icons
- Draw lines and shapes to highlight paths and areas
- Add text, photos, or YouTube/Google Videos to a map
- Add HTML for further personalization
- View their maps in Google Earth
This is the second time in four months that Google has effectively pulled the rug from under API developers (clarification: the Maps API is still available, but Google is now competing against many that use it for mash-ups). While these developers had no right to expect a free lunch from Google forever, you can bet that they’ll think twice about building a business around any Google service in the future.
* All that said, for us non-developers, this is a pretty cool new feature!