Google have taken another sizeable blow this week; just the latest in a long line of recent setbacks. Everything from legal intervention and criminal investigations to the loss of a portion of traffic to their eponymous search engine, following outrage over recent algorithmic updates, have plagued Google of late – and now bitter rivals Apple Inc. and Microsoft are putting the boot in, too.
In May this year, it was revealed that Apple’s iPhones would no longer use Google’s seminal aerial imaging program, Google Maps. The software has been a part of the iconic Apple product for years, but the company have now decided to end their agreement with the search engine giant, ditching Google Maps in favour of a mapping app of their own. Although by no means the end of the world for Google, this does mean that the number of users accessing their Google Maps service – and by extension, other Google services – will be heavily curtailed following the removal from Apple devices.
Microsoft have been swift to follow up the news with a bodyblow of their own. News broke this week of a massive update to Google Maps’ direct competitor, Bing Maps, which more than doubled the amount of aerial imaging data the software could access. Prior to the update, Bing Maps used around 129 terabytes of imaging data to render its image of the world. This week’s update brought a further 165 terabytes into play, including the additional images necessary to render Bing Maps’ coverage of the USA complete, and fully comprehensive.
Similar updates are planned throughout the rest of 2012, which will bring Bing’s coverage of the rest of the world up to a similar standard by the end of the year.
These drastic updates to the Bing Maps service – publicised here on the Microsoft blog with some impressive still images – could spell disaster for Google. It seems that after so many years of Google operating as the proverbial big fish in a small bowl, the other fish are now starting to grow large enough to present a threat.
Couple Bing’s constant improvements to its aerial imaging service with the recent scandal over Google’s home-grown alternative, Google Maps, and it’s not hard to imagine that Google’s share of the virtual mapping market could be about to shrink dramatically.
This is only going to spell further trouble for Google, as fewer users will be likely to access Google Maps, with many opting instead for their iPhone’s integrated maps package, or Bing’s more regularly-updated maps feature.
The recent changes Google have made to their search engine ranking algorithms have also caused no small amount of strife. Despite Google’s assertions that the updates were intended to improve the quality of the top-ranked Google search results for a specific phrase, the landscape of the search results is currently both volatile and, in some cases, of very low relevance to the searched term.
As more Google users become frustrated with inadequate Google services, and more user-friendly alternatives are pushed upon them by devices they’re already using, only time will tell if Google are about to lose customers by the boat-load.