Google India has finally rolled out driving directions for Google Maps online, and both driving and walking directions for Google Maps on mobile.
This addition to Google Maps has been pending for quite a while: both MapMyIndia and Yahoo Maps have driving directions. Google Maps online allow users to change routes easily, giving estimates of distance and time – though the estimates of time don’t quite take into account the impact of traffic.
Google Maps Mobile
I think the more interesting implications exist in case of mobile – I’ve used Google Latitude to meet friends who’re close to my location, and the availability of both driving and walking directions will only make this simpler. I also noticed that the distance and time calculated in case of walking directions is different from the driving directions. Imagine the same scenario with directions being updated on a real-time basis, as two individuals converge upon each other.
What’s still missing from Latitude on mobile in India is the availability of public transportation information. That is one piece that we don’t think any mapping information service has added in India.
Google Maps is still being built for monetization in India; it does provide local business information, and that’s where we think the monetization will come in. As when the usage of latitude picks up, Google could allow Maps users to “click to call” business owners like restaurants – and businesses will pay for lead generation. Google used to have the click to call feature in India – for example, users searching for ICICI Bank would be connected via a free call to the ICICI Bank call center. That is no longer active, and we’ve heard that there was misuse there – people were trying click to call just for fun.
They can also offer people directions to, say, the nearest McDonalds. Whether this will be monetizable is anybodys guess, but the first step for Google in this process is to build traction.
(Updates: added Revenue Implications)
Related: On Google Latitude Vs BIG Maps