Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Google Earth domination

After reading this article on how Google is doing a great job giving average people the geographic context of any given event on the earth, in this case the situation in Darfur...
Google Earth has added a Global Awareness layer to its maps program that lets you learn about the crisis in Darfur. By selecting the Global Awareness layer (in the lower left-hand corner of Google Earth) you can fly over enhanced satellite images of the war-torn region. Sprinkled over the map are icons that link to photographs, data, videos, and narratives of eyewitnesses to the genocide.
I also noted that people are still discussing the dominance of Google in the area, despite the presence of a great competing product by the evil empire. Why has the normally ubiquitous marketing department of Microsoft's not been able to push their viewer?

Peter Laudati thinks it’s because it’s gone through so many name changes, from Virtual Earth to Windows Live Local to whatever they’re calling it now — he counts at least eight web addresses that resolve to the service. (Dare Obasanjo: “This product has now officially gone through more names than I’ve had ex-girlfriends. … It’s sad that we are intent on screwing one of the coolest products we are shipping these days in this way.”)

Scoble thinks it comes down to ease of use: Google’s typically simple, uncluttered, non-redundant user interface.

Me, I suspect that cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility might play a factor: a lot of the people who write the stories that generate the buzz use Macs. (Live Maps doesn’t work at all on Safari, and it’s apparently not feature-complete on Firefox.)

Plus, I think Microsoft simply doesn’t have much goodwill left: if you say that Microsoft has produced something truly amazing, many of us will simply conclude that you’re a shill on their payroll.

I've seen the same thing in other areas as well. There was an article in Linux Magazine this month about the comparisons between modern releases of Linux and Microsoft's new Vista platform, and the author had to concede that Vista was superior to Linux in many ways (while repeating many times that he wasn't an MS shill).
Also, I've heard many independent reports that refer to the .NET development platform that Microsoft has invested the next couple of decades supporting as being just as good, or in some cases better, than Java for web development. Obviously there are some caveats there (like the dependence on the MS operating systems and servers when using .NET) but so many people are devoted to having all-MS shops that this probably won't be a serious drawback for most of us.
Needless to say, yes MS has gone a long way to improving their platforms and putting out some very good software, so the reputation they have in the industry of resting on their gigantic market share and not innovating at the same time appears to be erroneous.

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