Google Plans to Announce Its Own 3D Maps Before Apple

The title of the event, “The next dimension of Google Maps,” is a clear tip of the hat to Google adding 3D maps to it s standard offering. The significance here is that the demo will be less than a week before WWDC2012 event at which Apple is expected to introduce its own map app, complete with 3D capabilities, as part of its next generation mobile software, iOS 6. The other piece of the puzzle is that Google is making moves to monetize its services on all fronts, so making the value proposition for its unique offerings is crucial.
Google, and in fact all of the big internet companies, are at a crossroads. As Facebook’s recent fizzle has shown, counting on advertising as the sole means of monetizing these massive services is not a good idea. The growth of Google’s own text advertising business is slowing and it is unclear how much display and mobile ad revenues will bring in.
Tim Worstall has written in these pages about how Google makes more from licensing its software to Apple for use in the iPhone than it does directly from Android. This, of course, will change if Apple replaces Google maps with its own offering. But beyond Apple, Google has begun to charge developers for API access to Google Maps data, which heretofore has been free for all but the biggest customers, like Apple.
Google has just launched a developer portal for the Google Maps API that is, according to the company, is intended to “inspire the next wave of innovation on the Google Maps API, and to connect developers and decision makers with the tools and services that can make their products better.” The portal is a great place to see some of the really interesting ways that companies are making use of the map data, including 3D applications.