I'm a big user of Google's map function: with the amount of traveling I do I'm on there about once a week plotting my trips, both local and long-distance. I'm not a north — south — east — west person… I prefer landmarks (turn left at the church, turn right at the blue store, etc.) so I use Google's hybrid system which combines maps with satellite imagery.

Microsoft, in its ongoing attempt to unseat Google as the king of the online universe, is offering users the ability to zoom through 3 dimensional views of major cities. Google does offer a similar service but Microsoft's seems like it will be more widely available (at least for now).

This is helpful for landmark travelers like me. And, it's just plain cool. But more importantly there are some serious potential advertising opportunities as well: store owners will likely be able to create store-front images and electronic billboards targeted to the person searching (so that a senior looking for directions might not see an indie-rock music store but a teenager might).

Here's what I predict will happen:

  1. In the near future we'll see some advertising sales.
  2. Google will move their similar product into the mainstream (it is currently a separately launching program).
  3. Users will prefer this function to maps.
  4. Google will move forward with advanced advertising techniques.