Monday, September 17, 2007

The Mobile Map Killer

location based services
portable navigation devices

by Russell Buckley on September 17th, 2007 in Analysis
I was packing this morning to come to London to speak at the Mobile Web 2.0 conference tomorrow and go to the Mobile Entertainment Awards - AdMob is up for another one, so I hope we’ll see a repeat of our Meffy’s triumph. By the way, if you’re going to either or both, please come and say hello.
While we’re on the subject of keeping in touch, please link up via Facebook, Linked In (both emails are russell AT mobhappy DOT com). I also have a Twitter (russellbuckley) account that I’m using intermittently that you might like to check out, or follow, to use the right terminology.
London is the sort of town where you need to have access to a map, even if you’ve been a taxi driver, or a delivery man driving a white van in my case - a holiday job from a long time ago! So I picked up my pocket size A-Z (the brand name of the most popular street map of London, for you non-UK folks) to pack and then realised I hadn’t used it on my last few visits, as I’d been using the excellent Google Maps app (see, I can say nice things about them too!). So I didn’t pack it.
In fact, I think I’ve now purchased my final A-Z, as if I ever do move back to the UK, the combination of Google Maps and Car Nav has made this trusty old tool, not to mention, brilliant product design completely irrelevant to modern life. Meaning that the mobile can add the suffix “killer” to paper and book maps, just as it’s done to PDA’s, cameras, calculators, alarm clocks and I would argue is about to do to stand-alone MP3 players and video cameras.
This death knell has sounded almost exactly 70 years after the first A-Z was published by a quite remarkable lady called Phylliss Pearsall and has turned out to be just as iconic for Londoners as Henry Beck’s more famous map of the Underground. The A-Z shows literally every street in this higgledy pigledy ancient city and she spent years cycling and surveying the 23,000 streets contained in the original. The first draft was turned down by the book trade en masse, so she self-published, delivering her first books in a wheel barrow.
Interestingly Phyllis saw the A-Z as a way to continue her real work as a painter and writer and left all her shares in a trust to benefit the employees. Alas, not for very much longer if I’m right on this one.

No comments: