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LBS & tourism through the eyes of a postgrad marketing student in New Zealand.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

MSN Virtual Earth

Virtual Earth: MSN's answer to Google Maps

If you haven't already watched the video, go have a look right now! It gave a very good intro to the new app, but was also informative in other ways, in terms of learning that Microsoft has actually been in the mapping business for a very long time (apparently their first consumer mapping products came out in 1995). Definitely worth watching!

In terms of tourism, this would be invaluable for travellers to check out their destination before they get there, which would go a long way to decreasing the perceived risk of the whole experience; it really facilitates the trip-planning/time management process. The video mentioned an example, e.g. you may be booked into a 'seaside hotel', but with Virtual Earth you can actually check it out in advance to see if that claim is legitimate! Most people I've talked to which fit into the 'new media traveller' category usually travel independently or in very small groups, and they usually express a desire to find out as much as they can about a place prior to the trip, so that they can be really prepared. And if you pile on the user-annotations on top of the map (like in Urban Tapestries), you start to get some really individualised, value-added, rich content which is pretty impossible to get out of a traditional paper map or tourist guidebook. It all fits together!

Of course, it's going to be pretty difficult (if not impossible) to use Virtual Earth on a cellphone/PDA and still get a good experience (combination of data transfer speeds/prices and small screen size), but you could use the rich web app when you're at the netcafe or in the hotel, then have a complementary simplified version on the mobile device?


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