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Image Credit: Gizbot

Google ruffled quite a few feathers in the Windows Phone camp lat week by redirecting users who tried to access Google Maps in Internet Explorer to the Google homepage. The initial statement by Google goes something like this: 

“The mobile web version of Google Maps is optimized for WebKit browsers such as Chrome and Safari. However, since Internet Explorer is not a WebKit browser, Windows Phone devices are not able to access Google Maps for the mobile web”

 What Google really meant: you are a nice guy, it’s just that we are two different people and so maybe we shouldn’t see each other anymore aka you just got dumped, douche!

 Sure, that sounds that like a fair reason and it also doesn’t make any point for Google to invest its resources to deliver an application on a platform that is still not yet significant enough from a business point of view. However, the next day Google updated its statement saying that it is ‘currently working’ on removing the re-direct and providing a good maps experience for the Windows Phone users.

 What follows is Google’s statement:

“We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users. In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to where they could at least make local searches. The Firefox mobile browser did offer a somewhat better user experience and that’s why there is no redirect for those users.

Recent improvements to IE mobile and Google Maps now deliver a better experience and we are currently working to remove the redirect. We will continue to test Google Maps compatibility with other mobile browsers to ensure the best possible experience for users.”

 As a previous windows phone user, I agree with what Google said. The default Bing Maps on WP is far from satisfactory, at least in India. So the only other option was to access Google Maps via the browser or an app using Google Maps. I tried the latter and it was actually pretty good. It had options to search for a location, get the route and itinerary. I believe this option might still work for the Windows Phone users who are stranded on the streets.

 While Google claims product design is the reason for this fiasco it could as well be any of the following:

  • Building, testing and maintaining an app as complex as Maps just for a few million users probably doesn’t make any sense. Also, the one place where Google has not yet been able to reach out is the enterprise while Microsoft has a monopoly over it(at least for now). So providing a good Maps experience will only help Microsoft to sell more Windows Phones. 
  • Google just doesn’t want to take any risk and let Windows Phone platform to grow – hiding the Golden Egg ought to do that.
  • Finally, Microsoft just brought this upon itself, thanks to all the negative smear campaigns it led against Google – ScroogledBing It On
  • Recently FTC ruled in favour of Google crushing Microsoft’s allegations that Google was involved in unfair trade practices. So maybe +Larry Page decided to rub more salt in the wound – Its payback time!

This year the battle between the tech titans will be fought over who controls the maps and pictures – one down, one more to go for Google.

This article has been reproduced from Sridhar’s blog. 


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