MyMaps — feature or lock-in attempt?

Google has launched a smart add-on to their popular map services, a feature called MyMaps which allows users to share maps and map mashups they’ve created. Steve Rubel says that Google maps is becoming a community, which is definitely true, and others like Pete Cashmore at Mashable say that Platial — a map service that already has similar features — is going to be in a world of hurt, not to mention Frappr and Flagr.

search.jpgThe community thing is interesting, and it’s worth wondering — as Om Malik does — whether this kind of service is a hint of the Yahoo-ization of Google. But like Brady Forrest at O’Reilly, I’m more interested in the fact that Google is indexing all of the content created through MyMaps, and will be mixing it in with its search results (as it already does with blog posts and comments, Technorati tags and so on). That’s an interesting move, and one that Brady points out is — so far at least — unique to Google.

My friend Paul Kedrosky also finds the move an interesting one, but says that in some ways it is similar to what Microsoft would do with a new service — except in Microsoft’s case it would build it into the operating system, and in Google’s case it builds it into its search results, which Paul says is the equivalent of an operating system for the Web. Is Google just trying to improve its search results, or is it trying to come up with ways to reproduce OS lock-in?

Maybe Paul has been watching the ads that Ask.com has been running in Britain, which pretend to be the work of a shadowy underground group called the Information Revolution, and are designed to make the case that Google controls too much of the Internet. The WSJ has a video report about it, which I’ve embedded below (click here if you’re reading this via RSS).

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.