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The #1 Source of Consumer Aggravation: What Happens When Maps Aren't Accurate?

NeworleansFirst, reviewers (New York Times, Seattle P-I) started discovering inaccuracies in local city guides for the iPhone.

Then, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, map accuracy is being called into question. Peter Zollman, writing for Poynter, shows how the Lakeview residential area (shown to the left), is actually filled with houses "...(that) are either restored, gutted and awaiting restoration, or demolished."

Peter should know, he lives there.

So I checked this against some construction taking place across the street from the Colorado Convention Center. Looking at Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft (note these three links display the same area on the various services), Yahoo and Microsoft both show the area as a parking lot. Only Google shows any construction, which actually broke ground on May 15, 2007. The image below shows the same area as of January 2008: clearly not a parking lot!

In other words, the satellite views for all three services are at least 15 months old.

Spire_today I really did like Microsoft's bird's eye view here, but wrong is wrong. Local search should be accurate, whether it is search, video, or maps. No one likes going online, driving a few miles to go somewhere, only to find the place is either closed or no longer exists.

Years ago, it was easy to underestimate the value of TVGuide. Analysts would ask, if you had relationships with all of the television networks, how hard could it be to recreate the enterprise? The fact of the matter was that TV stations' programming was often out of local control. Print products could take days to get to market versus hours for electronic programming guides (EPG), but if the EPG showed television shows that weren't going to air, even the slickest EPG wasn't really going to be worth much.

It appears that investors have a strong interest in local applications, which will only intensify if Apple releases a $499 netbook in September. Given these developments, it will be interesting to see what investors in local media will choose to do in order to to ensure their investments feature accurate, up-to-date information.

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