It’s a three-way match among Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and MapQuest, as each of these popular mapping services pit their respective APIs against the other two. Developers can now have their pick of cutting-edge mapping APIs so they can design their own interactive map apps.
Google Maps is, of course, considered the one to beat. But let’s take a look at how Yahoo Maps and MapQuest measure up against the almighty Google.
Google Maps API
- Fluid interface that includes engaging map marker flyouts
- Available worldwide
- Includes built-in aerial images
- Has the biggest developer base
- Availability of countless hacks and how-tos
- Built-in geocoding is not included
- Built-in routing function is not available
Yahoo Maps API
- Includes built-in and external geocoding functions
- Built-in GeoRSS support
- APIs are more flexible and open
- Rate limiting by end-user IP
- Available in Flash version
- Only available in the U.S. and Canada
- Aerial images are not available
- Map marker flyouts seem unexceptional compared to Google’s
- Includes built-in geocoding function
- Includes built-in routing function
- Rate limiting by appID plus website URL
- Photos are not available
- AJAX map client not yet available
Google Maps vs Yahoo Maps vs MapQuest: The Verdict
Competing against the omnipresent Google, even if only against its mapping technology, is a big undertaking for Yahoo Maps and MapQuest, and so it is to be expected that these two will play the cards that the Google Maps API is not putting on the “free access” table. Giving access to tools that the competition is not offering is almost always a winning move; it’s a good way to remain competitive and relevant.
Yahoo Maps’ release of an AJAX map client with a built-in geocoding function is an excellent example, as this definitely gives them an edge over Google.
It’s still anybody’s game at this point; each of these companies’ strategies may prove more advantageous than the others in terms of long-term usefulness, and any of them might release better tools in the future to stay ahead. They might be allowing free access to their APIs for now, but this could also change any time soon; and let’s not forget about the elephant in the room of free access: ads.