1. Industry Background
Global positioning systems were originally created for military use in the 1970s. This system was originally developed to help submarines navigate. The first GPS satellite was launched in 1978 and since then the technology has been broadened for commercial use. Today, GPS is used by millions to navigate on a daily basis and can be hugely useful in mapping driving or walking directions.
The digital map has revolutionised the ease with which we can travel – whether it be by car, boat, plane, train or foot.
As a result of public reliance on digital navigation systems, traditional cartography jobs are being downsized, and in many cases eliminated. For example, the California State Automobile Association (CSAA) produced its last paper map of highways in 2008.
A career in cartography used to be the privilege of well-funded adventurers with full government backup. Even after the advent of commercial satellite and aerial photography, the ability to make maps remained largely in the hands of specialists. Now, suddenly, mapmaking power is within the grasp of anyone with a smartphone. In the past years, map providers like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have created tools that let anyone with an Internet connection can contribute in creating a more detailed road map of their favourite neighbourhood for the rest of the world to see.
Things you own or use that are now considered to be the product of disruptive innovation including smartphone and many of its apps, which have disrupted businesses from travel agencies and record stores to mapmaking and taxi dispatch.
2. Background on Google Maps
Google Maps began life as a series of random scribbles on a whiteboard in 2004 by Australian software engineer Noel Gordon, one of the four men who founded the Sydney-based digital mapping start-up Where 2 Technologies. The squiggles show the names of potential competitors, alternative buyers, and a list of venture capital firms, should the Google deal fall through, as well as technical and strategic notes.
Where 2’s four co-founders —Noel Gordon and Stephen Ma, both software engineers and the Danish-born Rasmussen brothers Lars and Jens — quickly became Google employees and worked out of the company’s newly established Australia headquarters.
Google Maps was first designed to be separately downloaded by users, but the company later pitched the idea for a purely web-based product to Google management, changing the method of distribution.
In October 2004, the company was acquired by Google Inc. where it transformed into the web application Google Maps. The founders of GM were among the first to apply the technologies that became the cornerstone of the Web 2.0 renaissance in late 2004, a reboot of the old web which had collapsed under the weight of inflated expectations in 2000.
Google Maps is now connected immediately to all forms of search is because they realised that nearly 30-40 percent of all searches carried out on Google had some geographical element.
For Google, cartography is not the end product, but rather the necessary means for future products. Google Maps is about mapping lives and merging the physical and the virtual.
The application collects information about users: the physical pathways that they follow – either on foot or in a car – and the digital traces they leave behind: photographs taken, purchases made, and activities done.
Google released the first version of Google Maps in January 2005, followed by the more intricate 3-D world of Google Earth five months later. Those two applications — along with Google Maps for Mobile, which calls up maps and local search results on mobile devices — are overlapping views of the same underlying data.
With over 1billion+ monthly active users, Google Maps is one of the most used consumer application.
In May 2013, Google’s vice president took to stage and announced that Google was aiming to build “a perfect map of the world”.
Google has been at the forefront of leading the biggest change to mapping since the 15th century, when maps went from manuscript to print. Now they’re online and taking advantage of satellite imagery, maps are more detailed, accurate and multi-dimensional than they’ve ever been.
3. Disruptive Innovation & Disruptive Technologies
In the pre-Google Maps era, online mapping was dominated by MapQuest, the clunky scion of an analogue cartographic business, later purchased by AOL.
MapQuest had already pushed classic maps and road atlases to the wayside. However, Google Maps one-upped MapQuest by making reliable directions right into a smartphone. With easy-to-access maps, plus free turn-by-turn navigation, Google Maps made top-of-the-line GPS units like TomTom and Garmin irrelevant for any smartphone user.
Today, having a navigation system constantly at your fingertips has resulted in Google Maps being used in all ways possible. From street directions to the nearest restaurant, to a planning of weekend getaway trip across Ireland, no journey is too big or too small for Google Maps. You may even chose weather you want to travel via motorway with tolls, or chose a country road instead without really knowing how to get to your destination, depended only on GPS commands. Users learn far less and lose that instinct of what lies in relation to what. Why would anyone learn to read a map when it’s all done with one click.
The moves Google is making add up to disruption for mapping, smartphone, software, and advertising — all nearly simultaneously.
The effects have been colossal and irreversible. The Internet has had more effect on maps, cartography, and the way we get around than anything else in two thousand years of map history. Rand McNally only covered America for a century. Now Google Maps, which has only been around for about five years, is all over the world and without a doubt the most influential map company in history.
Google Maps’ Product Range/Services
On top of the base layers of maps, Google has added many other capabilities including turn-by-turn navigation, business locations, search while navigation etc. Gone are the days when users followed directions from a printed piece of paper. Google has made traveling anywhere extremely easy and hassle-free.
Google’s stated objective is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” its Google Maps endeavour allows it to organize the world’s information, making it personally accessible and useful.
By combining the power of high resolution mapping, digital human traces, and smart machines, Google has the ability to revolutionize the underpinnings of the modern lifestyle: communication, mobility, consumption, and production.
Googles Maps offering
(Google – Products)
Create an open-source smartphone operating system that providers prefer, and which eliminates expensive royalties to third-party mapping companies. CHECK.
Create an advertising model based on geo-location to supplement a hugely successful advertising model based on search terms. UNDERWAY.
Create revenue-shares with smartphone providers so that they actually make money off the phones from advertising in addition to subscriber fees for connectivity and data services. UNDERWAY.
Deploy the same revenue-share model for a computer operating system (Google Chrome) for netbooks first, other computers later. LIKELY PLANNED.
Since 1999, Google has expanded its search technology into blogging, mapping, shopping, research and more. Google offers over 70 different products which are connected to each other improving every aspect of our lives from getting answers using search engine, maps, online translator to watching, listening, playing, organizing your photos, e-mails, documents and managing your business all thanks to one company.
Google Maps is mapping technology and local business information —including business locations, contact information and driving directions. Google Maps offers users business search results, draggable maps, satellite images, detailed driving directions and keyboard shortcuts to move around in a map view.
Apply Christenson’s Theory of Distruptive Innovation
the market for which was created by what Christensen called “disruptive innovation”: the selling of a cheaper, poorer-quality product that initially reaches less profitable customers but eventually takes over and devours an entire industry.
Christensen has compared the theory of disruptive innovation to a theory of nature: the theory of evolution. But among the many differences between disruption and evolution is that the advocates of disruption have an affinity for circular arguments. If an established company doesn’t disrupt, it will fail, and if it fails it must be because it didn’t disrupt. When a startup fails, that’s a success, since epidemic failure is a hallmark of disruptive innovation.
According to Christenson’s theory, disruptive innovation needs to include those 3 points to be considered disruptive.
1. The quality of product is always less what currently exists
2. Easy to access + cheaper
3. Targets a niche market – creates its own market
If to follow these steps to examine whether Google Maps are in fact disruptive, according to Christening’s theory points it would be not considered as disruptive technology.
like the physical navigation devices installed in cars that used to cost thousands of dollars. The prices of these devices kept steadily coming down. But then came Google Maps, which was at once cheaper (i.e. free), better (i.e. more accurate and up to date), more convenient (i.e. it was portable) and more personalized (i.e. linked to all the other things on your mobile phone), all at once. Guess what happened to the market for physical navigation devices? It was all but obliterated as around hundred million users downloaded Google Maps in the first year. A year later, that number had doubled.
According to Christensen characteristics of disruptive businesses, at least in their initial stages, can include: lower gross margins, smaller target markets, and simpler products and services. Because these lower levels of the market offer lower gross margins, they are unattractive to other firms moving upward in the market, creating space at the bottom of the market for new disruptive competitors to emerge.
Google has been busy creating a disruptive approach based on “less than free.” They are reaching “free” with their turn-by-turn mapping data, then plan to insinuate their technologies into devices using a disruptive model that rewards providers and manufacturers with revenue sharing.
Google capture value primarily in three ways from Google Maps:
1. Direct advertising in Google Maps
2. Indirect advertising across other Google products and
3. Google Maps API in 3rd party apps.
1. Direct advertising in Google Maps
Via the Google AdWords program, businesses pay to have ads placed on search engine, map, video and email platforms to increase the number of times consumers are exposed to their brands. Brands can pay a fee for their logos to appear on Google Maps, helping brand recognition amongst its user base and driving traffic to the stores. Essentially, Google can provide free products to the public by selling consumer attention span to businesses.
2. Indirect advertising across other Google products
Through Google Maps, all other Google products get access to user’s location history, making it easier for targeted advertising in other Google products as well. For example, looking at users driving behaviour, Google can figure out the home and work location for particular users and then use that information to do targeted ads on Google search. Such synergy of data is possible as users share location information with Google for free usage of Google Maps.
3. Google Maps API in 3rd party apps
Though advertising provides its primary income stream, Google also makes money from its Maps platform through sales of the enhanced, customizable mapping program, Google Maps API, geared towards businesses such as Uber that benefit from having a tailored version of the Maps in their online or mobile applications. App developers are willing to pay Google maps as the users are already familiar with the product and it is much more accurate than any other product.
Thus, by making a significant investment in constantly collecting data and analyzing it, Google has built an extremely successful product that not only creates value but captures it as well.
Milner calculates that there are already about five billion devices in the world that use GPS (including three billion smartphones), creating a $21bn GPS economy. “This extraordinary system began as an American military application, a way to improve the accuracy of bombs and keep bomber pilots safe,” Milner writes. “But today its tentacles are everywhere.”
Google is the giant of the consumer-mapping world. More than 1billion+ people use the Google Maps smartphone app every month.
Android Police points out that Google Maps has recently crossed the 1 billion download threshold, making it the second Android app in history to reach this milestone. It’s an extremely impressive achievement and a reminder of just how much Google’s apps and services have been conquering the world.
Local search ads allow firms to place adverts inside the search results of a person who is physically near their premises, along with maps showing their locations. And promoted pins permit businesses to highlight their own positions along routes that Google calculates for navigation—a pin for a Starbucks en route to Central Park in New York, say. Morgan Stanley, an investment bank, projects that such ads will generate $1.4bn of revenue for Google in 2017, rising to $3.3bn by 2020.
Google’s free navigation feature announcement dealt a crushing blow to the GPS stocks. Garmin fell 16%. TomTom fell 21%. Imagine trying to maintain high royalty rates against this strategic move by Google.
(Above the crowd)
At the end of 2007, TomTom was on top of the world. The Dutch satnav maker had taken record revenues of €634m (£445m) in the Christmas quarter, sold a record 4.2m devices, and was making a net profit of €107m, an all-time high. The fall, when it came, was going to be hard, and it took less than two years: by the first quarter of 2009, revenues had slumped to €213m and it recorded a net loss of €37m.
Having seen Google come from nowhere to undermine what was a solid business.
How the company benefitted from their approach
Apply Porter’s theories of Value Chain or the 5 forces
Imagery containing close-up detail of streets is the second main ingredient. In May Google said it had used an artificial-intelligence technique known as deep learning to scan 80bn photos, automatically identifying house numbers and the names of streets and businesses. Its photos were gathered from its “StreetView” cars, which have trawled the planet capturing street imagery since 2007, at a vast cost.
This archive is a barrier to entry for other companies, but it may be tumbling.
7. Potential Growth
Google has pioneered many advancements in mapping and data collection, making them a global leader in mapping. They’ve worn analysis about privacy, while plugging away with global maps and directions that are unmatched. Google’s realignment of the geospatial industry, with continual innovation, has been to the individual user’s benefit and has greatly increased the awareness of the power of maps.
(Sensors and systems)
The future of GPS is looking bright. Programs like Google Earth are just the beginning of what can be done with global positioning technology. Militarily, more accurate and faster GPS systems can give troops and commanders up to date analysis of friendly and enemy troop movement. With GPS becoming smaller and more powerful, it can also be used for individual soldiers in the field to triangulate their position.
Commercially, the technology has exploded in the past few years, allowing anyone and everyone to afford powerful GPS units in their automobiles and homes. That technology is now making the jump to mobile smart phones.
Amazon, Google, and other services dependent on local delivery want to cut humans out of the delivery loop as much as possible and are pushing for the Federal Aviation Administration to approve the commercial use of aerial drones for the delivery of parcels.
Take, for instance, Google’s autonomous car initiative, which aims to combine sensors, GPS and 3D maps to develop self-driving cars. Then there’s Google’s Project Wing: a drone-based delivery systems that hopes to make use of a detailed 3D model of the world to quickly link supply to demand – and shatter the current retail paradigm.
8. Key Personnel
Google Maps began as a C++ desktop program designed by Lars and Jens Eilstrup Rasmussen at Where 2 Technologies.
Where 2’s four co-founders — Gordon, fellow Australian Stephen Ma and the Danish-born Rasmussen brothers Lars and Jens — suddenly found themselves as Google employees and working out of the company’s newly established Australia headquarters.
Noel Gordon – Australian Software Engineer
Jens Eilstrup Rasmussen
The full product/eng team that launched the product:
· Lars Rasmussen – went on to create Google Wave, now at Facebook
· Jens Rasmussen – went on to create Google Wave
· Bret Taylor – co-founder of FriendFeed, now at Facebook
· Jim Norris – co-founder of FriendFeed, now at Facebook
· Stephen Ma – Software engineer at Where2
· Andrew Kirmse
· Noel Gordon
· Seth LaForge
Lars and Jens were primarily responsible for the unique and wonderful map design, still my favorite part of the product.
Consequently, innovators hoping to bring change to heavily regulated parts of the economy should find ways to target customers neglected by the incumbents operating inside the walled garden of a heavily regulated environment. By instead developing a model that targets the non-consumers of a product or service, innovators have the chance to develop a business model appropriate to benefitting their customers (rather than one that is optimised for a regulatory regime).
9. Reference list
(Google – Products)
(Above the crowd)
(Sensors and systems)
Appendix 1 –