Never Lost Again

Thanks to Ed Freyfogle, I have just finished reading Never Lost Again by Bill Kilday. If you enjoy books about the history of tech and the rollercoaster of a startup in the early part of this century, this is a great read. For me it was a compulsive page turner, partly because I thought that I knew the story and of course I didn’t.

Kilday was the VP Marketing at Keyhole from just about the beginning and he remained with the company after they were acquired by Google and was the marketing lead for both Google Earth and Google Maps through the first part of their explosive growth. This a good chronology of the key events in the creation of Google’s massive geo-business and also provides some intriguing insights into the the backstory, personalities and the rivalries.

It’s quite amazing to remember that Google Maps is just 14 years old (launched on 8th Feb 2005). From a team of 30 odd people it has grown to over 5,000, there are over 1 billion users of Google maps each month.

Unless you are as old as me it is difficult to remember how clunky, slow and limited web mapping was before Google and of course the subsequent intersection with “smart” phones started by the iPhone. If you want a peak at what mapping was like before Google you can scroll through my Brief History of Web Mapping talk which I prepared for a post graduate class at Nottingham University.

Today there are only really 3 players left in the game – Google, the collective of businesses delivering services on top of OpenStreetMap (MapBox, Carto et al) and of course Esri – I discounted Apple because I don’t believe their heart is in it for the long term.

For the consumer who wants to find their way to a meeting, a restaurant, a hotel in almost any city in the world or wants to take a peek at a store front on StreetView, there is one solution that they are most likely to turn to – Google Maps. I wonder what the next 10 years will bring?