CityMaps’ New iOS App Not Good Enough to Take on GOOG, APPL

Citymaps logoThere’s a new CityMaps app for iOS. It’s being celebrated by some as a kind of second coming of Waze. It’s not.

There’s a more polished UI than the earlier CityMaps app (pictured immediately below). But the content and experience is not (yet) rich enough to displace Google Maps, Apple Maps, Foursquare, Yelp or other local search apps you may be using.

Previously the app/site differentiated with its highly visual UI, featuring colorful corporate logos placed where business locations existed (e.g., Starbucks). Ultimately that experience was more novelty than utility.

The new CityMaps is more conventional and restrained, yet still visual (logo-rich). The data come from OpenStreetMap and are enhanced with editorial content from various (e.g., TimeOut). There are social angles too. But it all doesn’t quite come together to make a compelling case for itself.

City Maps app

The concept is right however. If you’re going to compete with Google (and now Apple) Maps on iOS you’ve got to do at least three of the following well:

  • Offer better content (ranking can also be done by social voting or via social data)
  • Offer a social experience that is both useful and fun (see Waze)
  • Offer recommendations and personalization (See Google, Foursquare, Yelp)
  • A richer or more interesting UI (See Apple, Recce)
  • Random, wild-card, totally clever element that I can’t think of now (see, e.g., Foodspotting, Pinterest, Instagram)

Waze gained a huge following because of its social and real-time traffic dimensions. On the UI front the most interesting independent mapping app/experience is offered by Recce (although I haven’t heard much from them lately).

As long as we’re on the subject of maps, it seems quite likely that AOL will eventually sell Mapquest (the company has already tried to do so unsuccessfully). AOL has failed to properly invest in and maintain the site and it’s something of a diminishing asset over time.

Indeed, Mapquest is not unlike a once-great hotel that the management failed to refurbish and which is relying instead on its reputation and former glory to maintain business. But that reputation (read: usage) is now in jeopardy and will continue to decline without some new infusion of ideas and money and some pretty compelling changes.

The interesting question is who would buy the site/asset? At one time IAC would have been a natural buyer but no longer I suspect, having had such trouble with CityGrid/Citysearch.

The following video promotes CityMaps as a kind of discovery tool/personal assistant:

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2 Responses to “CityMaps’ New iOS App Not Good Enough to Take on GOOG, APPL”

  1. Bart says at

    Greg,

    Thanks for mentioning again Recce and our great user experience. We’ve been quiet lately, with our heads down on scaling beyond a city by city approach. Just about ready to share that more publicly – happy to give you a peek!

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    Bart: Happy to talk when you’re ready

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