Monday, January 29, 2007

Google Maps: lack of international searches boggles the mind

Google Maps should beat the hell out of ViaMichelin, with its maps superimposed over satellite images (if you want them that way), and its searching capabilities. But when you try to use Google Maps to search for an address that isn't located in the United States, most of the time, you'll get no results. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Rien.

It's not that Google Maps doesn't know about the street you're looking for. When you navigate there, you'll find it. By hand. By dragging the map. But searching for it? Nope.

What the hell is going on here? Wasn't Google started by two geeks who didn't care about anything but creating the perfect search engine? Isn't Google still about searching? Isn't it Google's mission to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful"? Since then, of course, Google has ballooned into an entire economy of its own, and it's easier to list the services it isn't offering as of 2006. (Full disclosure: Mac Thought Crime is powered by Blogger, also acquired by Google.) But has the company lost its focus in the process?

And ironically, while search sometimes doesn't work at all, it also tries to be too smart.
What's wrong with ViaMichelin's way of categorized information? I fill in the street and the city, and – boom! It's there.

It's not hard. It's no harder than typing the entire address in one text box and letting the software find out what I meant. Especially if it finds nothing. Or when the address is ambiguous, unless you specify what each part stands for: is it a city, a street, or a country?

Looks like it's hight time Google adopted another slogan to complement its famous "Don't Be Evil" motto: "Don't Suck."

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