JCL Blog

Amazon Could Crush Apple in Maps, and Maybe Google Too

The biz is all cranked up over the Apple vs Google Maps thing that came from the latest release of Apple's mobile operating system, IOS 6.  See this article in the NY Times.

In the background however, Amazon has been building its own maps capability.  In July of this year Amazon bought mapping company UpNext and I think Amazon could come from behind to leapfrog Apple and maybe even catch up to Google.

Impossible?  After all, the reason that Apple has rushed its mapping solution to market before it is ready is because Apple needs user data to improve the service.  

Amazon just happens to have a close relationship, a codependent relationship some would say, with delivery companyies like UPS and FedEx.  UPS has 250,000 drivers!  It would not surprise me if there are 500,000 drivers worldwide driving all day, every day, delivering stuff -- much of which is from Amazon.  This year Google announced it has driven 5 million miles collecting mapping data.    If Amazon got its 500,000 drivers to collect map data -- that would be only 10 miles for each driver.  It would take more time to install the collection equipment than it would to surpass all of Google's collections efforts so far.  Call it a week to install the stuff and by the end of the first day, Amazon would have 10x the data that Google has collected.  

Not only that, but professional drivers in every market in the whole world could return much higher quality data than users could.

Could be cool.

Vic Maui on Google Maps (How to put Lat Lon data onto Maps)

This year I have some friends racing their sailboat to Hawaii.  The nine boat fleet left Victoria over the weekend and they should be there within two weeks.  This kind of thing is more fun than ever to track with the new web enabled tools available.  The race committee is posting the lat and lon and standings each day on the official web site.  The numbers are fun to look at, but not as revealing as a map.  

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to figure out how to put this information onto a map.  It took me an hour or so to figure out, and I think I can update it daily in about 10 minutes.  Here are the steps:

  1. Use the web import tool in Excel to scrape the data off of the web site.   (Exel 2010, Data Tab, From Web...follow instructions -- very easy)
  2. Build some formulas in Excel to format the data to be read by EarthPoint.  (combine the data imported, label columns -- also very easy)
  3. Use EarthPoint to import the spreadsheet and create a KML file that can be read by Maps or Earth.  (just follow the instructions -- also very easy.  Hardest part is deciding on the types of Icons.)
  4. Create a MyMap in Google Maps.  (Go to maps.google.com, My Maps, Create New Map, Edit, Import, follow instructions).  I did this step a few times until I got the thing to look like I wanted.  
  5. Get Link to embed or email around.  (just click on the Link button on the top right corner).

Here are the results embedded: 

View 2010 Vic Maui in a larger map