Who gets the credit? – Mobile Navigation


Earlier last week, Google made an announcement that rocked the GPS market (namely Garmin and TomTom). The odd thing about this, is that one announcement from Google gets all the press, the web, and the tech market in general, talking about personal navigation and how this is a “game-changing technology.”

In fact, Google’s announcement really isn’t anything revolutionary. GPS technology has been present in mobile phones for over two years, and the introduction of Google Maps goes back to 2005 (and MapQuest before that started in 1996). The fact that investors either didn’t see this coming, or weren’t taking it into account on the stock price is amazing to me. Turn-by-turn navigation technology is already provided today, streaming to any Windows Mobile based phone with GPS technology built in. The only difference is that Microsoft isn’t marketing it very well. Microsoft has taken a back seat this year when it comes to marketing, allowing the products to speak for themselves. Bing for mobile is, although not as polished as the upcoming Google offering, a great tool for finding information on the road. It has built in voice recognition, turn-by-turn directions, satellite view, etc.

In essence, Bing mobile has today EVERY major feature mentioned in the Google announcement, yet the product has made almost no noise in the industry. Microsoft needs to get back to letting the industry know that they are offering leading technology products, and continue to innovate.

That said, Bing mobile still has some room for improvement. Here’s 3 things that would help this product succeed:

  • Higher Resolution Maps – Google Maps looks great on high-resolution, high-dpi devices. I have a new 480×800 screen, and the Bing maps look like low-res images that are oversized. The advent of 3G data bandwidth and high resolution screens means it’s time for an update.
  • Updated UI – The opening screen for Bing mobile includes options including “Maps”, “Traffic”, “Directions”, “Gas Prices”, etc. To me, this seems redundant, all this information will be displayed on a map, so open to the map and then let me add the info I want on top of it. Quick buttons on the map interface would be much better than the plain white background.
  • Marketing – What good is the product if no one knows about it? Learn to enlist social media and new media outlets to get mainstream attention.

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