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November 07, 2005

House hunting with the new Yahoo! Maps

By Charlene Li

I had a chance to put the new Yahoo! Maps through its paces this weekend as I went around to open houses on Sunday. Anyone who's been through the drill knows what a pain it is to do this!

First, a quick overview of what's new and different with Yahoo! Maps. 1) Great functionality and update to Yahoo! Maps, especially removing the need for page refreshes thanks to a nice Flash implementation (think Google Maps but with Flash instead of AJAX); 2) Multi-point mapping. Very, very key when managing an open house afternoon; 3) The back button works -- thanks to Flash, I can use the back button to back up when a refinement I've made isn't what I want; and 4) the URL updates automatically, meaning I can copy and send the URL to my husband/broker to give them the directions.

In a word, it was wonderful. I used one browser window to look up open houses and then plotted them on the map. I could drag and drop locations within the directions (albeit, it was a little cumbersome to do this). At the end of the process, I did two things -- I printed a copy of the directions and I also used Yahoo!'s "Send to Phone" option to SMS the directions to my cell.

Contrast that to the process I used last weekend.

1) Find and enter the address each time into Google Maps.
2) Print out each map.
3) Figure out what order to see the houses in with all of them laid out on the table.
4) Stack the houses into the order I was hoping to see them in.
5) Pray while driving around with two kids that the pile didn't get re-ordered. My prayers were not answered. Realized that I should have stapled the entire pile together (aargh).

There's still a lot of work for Yahoo! to do, but it's a big step in the right direction. I have long thought that the Yahoo! Local service is heads and shoulders above Google's offerings -- with the exception of the maps. This should go a long way to helping Yahoo! regain that mapping ground, especially as its made the SDK much more robust for Maps.

But here's the big question -- is this all enough to "win" against Google Maps and keep MSN's Virtual Earth at bay? Robert Scoble doesn't think so and I have to agree with him. This is because the key to a mapping service's success is that it's used outside of the service itself by developers who will tap into the mapping APIs. Scoble uses Zvents as an example and I had a chance to speak with Ethan Stock aobut the service and their use of Google Maps on Friday. Zvents was caught in the middle of a minor hailstorm on Friday thanks to Scoble's post (Ethan blogs about it). At issue are the terms of service which restricted how many server calls can be made and whether commercial applications could access the APIs. Yahoo! revised the TOS and all seems to have died down. But at the core of the issue is a general distrust that Google/MSN/Yahoo! will eventually start charging for access to the maps at some point in the future. As I mentioned in my post about Microsoft's Live initiative, trust will be a major issue for all of these players, but especially so for Yahoo! and Microsoft as Google continues to command mindshare with developers.


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can you find me a job in usa I am from morocco live in 30 uear old

my email samih_alazoz@hotmail.com

Fiver Stone

For me, Yahoo Maps is still a distant third because of its lack of satellite imagery. I can see how it was more useful for you for this particular task, but when it comes to the actual maps I find the hybrid style maps to be SO much more useful (and interesting to boot) than any plain street map, especially when it comes to finding directions and assessing areas. When I am house-hunting, I want to have some idea whether the house is located in a wooded area or densely populated area or whatever. In fact, throw Google Earth in there and Yahoo Maps drops down another place in my book. That said, I love that they're in the game because it will only push the competition forward!

curtis d

i dont see why satellite maps is so important for users. its cool, but useful?

mapquest had the feature years before google did but mapquest yanked it because it wasnt getting enough hits. now that google has it it's the sh*@!? what gives?

Jim Bourgoin

Mapping properties to see made easy.

Print out all the properties reports that you wish to see. Be sure to turn on page numbering function.

Pages printed out 25.

The next function still has to be done by hand on a store bought or realtor issued (best) map. The realtor issued map has map codes to help locate property.

Start with listing # 1, Highlight the street and on the map inself write #1 next to the highlighted street.

Repeat for the next 24 properties.

When completely finished you will see the map with 25 locations highlighted and numbered.

Pick your starting point. No need to put the listings in any particular order as they are already numbered.

Starting point is #5, the next property that is closest to #5 is # 9, etc etc.

Been using this system for over 16 years with the buyers that I represent. It has made the chore of drivebys' very efficient.

In the event your 25 pages are dropped it is as easy as putting them into numercial page order.


Jim Bourgoin, CEBA, ABR, ABRM



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