Google MyMaps Smashes Mash-ups

Google is announcing a new service, My Maps, that allows anyone to create their own Google Maps-based mashups, reports The Wall Street Journal. Essentially, anyone can go in and plot all the great Thai restaurants in San Francisco, and save it as SF Thai Food Maps. You can also attach YouTube videos to these maps. Think map mashups for dummies! Microsoft already offers a similar feature with its stellar and constantly improving Live Search Maps service.

The consequences of Google’s announcement could be quite dire for a gaggle of map mashup start-ups including Platial, Frappr, Flagr and Plazes, to name a few — that have raised millions of dollars in venture capital.

Some use the Google Maps API as an underpinning for their offering. They now face the prospect of competing with Google, which also controls the API. However, a quick review of Google’s new service gives upstarts an edge on user friendliness, even though on their blog, Google claims even caveman can do it.

Google’s announcement shows that social mapping and geo-tagging are now a big enough opportunity for the company to take seriously. It also points to a larger trend – location-based services and how they are increasingly becoming part of information aggregation and sorting technologies.

Google, like its peers, is realizing that in the future when digital content explodes exponentially, context will become more important. Especially, when it comes to local search. MyMaps are a quick way to provide some context. It will only be a matter of time before these Google-hosted map mash-ups start showing up next to local search results.

Yahoo was the first search company to realize that people-powered search was a way for it to deliver more relevant and contextual information. Google My Maps is a tip-of-the-hat to people: after all if the machine could build these cool mash-ups, Google wouldn’t have had to launch My Maps.

PS: We couldn’t help but notice the name of this new offering – My Maps – just like My Yahoo! Is it the start of Yahoofication of Google?