It’s only been a few months since Fast Company last charted the course of online mapping, though ongoing developments in mapping technology and added features are beginning to make 2006 look like the Year of The Map. Last week, Google opened the doors for businesses to begin adding coupons inside the company’s map service. In partnership with Valpak Direct Marketing Systems (those friendly mailers of 528 million packets of coupons a year) Google’s software allows companies to embed links within the maps and serve up printable coupons (for, say, businesses without an online presence).
If coupons aren’t your idea of breaking news, check out what Gates and Co. are working on up in Seattle. Live Local is Microsoft’s developing offering in the maps space – a mapping portal that allows users to peer in on cities from a 45-degree “birds eye view,” as if circling the streets from a local news helicopter (Live Local is still in beta; birds eye view is currently only available over certain cities). For a closer view still, check out the beta version of Microsoft’s on-the-street map service – software that allows you to drive a virtual car through photo-mapped streets of Seattle and San Francisco.
Fortunately for Microsoft and Google, folks are actually adopting these pricey mapping tools – even going so far as to sketch out virtual skylines, floor plans, you name it. Think wikimapping. Shopping, gaming and socializing aren’t far off, either. The phrase “living inside a map” popped up at the Where 2.0 conference earlier this summer; check out a blog published from the conference here.