A lot of the talk around mobile / local occurs around Google. That makes sense since the search world is still dominated by the Goog. With bing getting some traction in search as of late there should be some more attention paid to the efforts to beef up their maps offerings.
Mobile users have unique information needs. They ask for information at the time they are at some place other than their desk or laptop. This shift is driving innovation in the area of maps that could become an important differentiator between search services of the future as the world starts to head in a truly mobile direction.
Bing has rolled out its version of transit directions in their maps by hitting the big metro areas first with more to come. The Bing Community blog tells us:
Commuters rejoice! Today Bing Maps added transit routing to its directions options. So, for those of you who like to take the bus, subway, or local rail you now can turn to Bing Maps. This is a very important feature for us as public transit grows in popularity and coverage. There are more than 10.7 billion public transit passengers per year in the US alone.
In this initial release (i.e. more to come) of Bing Maps transit directions, Bing Maps will cover 11 cities: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, and Vancouver.
Here is a screenshot of the new service.
What struck me was the statistic that bing chose to use which claimed that “There are more than 10.7 billion public transit passengers per year in the US alone”. Considering there are roughly 310 million US citizens that’s quite a feat!
What they meant to say is that there are that many USES of public transit every year. Also, most people who use public transit regularly in the big cities know more about the system than a tourist or whomever so they may not even seek help with getting from Point A to Point B.
So while this is a good direction for bing to head in it is dangerous, once again, to take anyone at their printed (read: blogged) word because embellishment (or just plain ignorance) is the rule and not the exception. Why? Because, eventually this needs to get advertisers to buy in and the bigger the numbers the larger the interest.
That is unless you are paying attention to the details and simply looking for something that can be so elusive in the Internet age: the truth.