Robert Scoble wrote a significant post in his blog yesterday calling on Microsoft and Google to Clone the Google API.
In a nutshell, Robert went to see a Microsoft customer company called Zvents (an online events listing company). When he asked them why they aren’t using Microsoft’s Virtual Earth on their site, (or Yahoo! Maps for that matter) instead of Google Maps, he discovered that:
1) The Yahoo and Virtual Earth licensing terms keep them from putting the map next to a Google advertising component.
2) Thereâ€™s a perception that Google will treat companies who stick with all of its components better (maybe by giving a discount in the future, maybe by serving out better ads, maybe, by, alas, making both components better through using attention data!
3) They know that putting Google logos on their site is â€œcoolerâ€? and â€œmore buzz generatingâ€? than putting Yahoo or Microsoft logos on their site (and theyâ€™d be right, heck, I work for Microsoft and Iâ€™m talking about their site).
Another example of the licensing restriction is the ip limit Yahoo! imposes on its Map service:
The Yahoo! Maps Embeddedable APIs (the Flash and AJAX APIs are limited to 50,000 queries per IP per day and to non-commercial use.
How narrow-minded is that? As Dave Winer says:
When an application starts getting serious traffic, pick up the phone and let’s figure out how to make some money. High traffic is good news, it’s something to welcome, to encourage, not something to fear!
As a result, Robert called on Microsoft and Yahoo! to clone the Google API – this would require a fundamental mind-shift for Microsoft and Yahoo! and that won’t be easy as evidenced by a comment on Scoble’s post by Jeffrey McManus (Director, Yahoo! Developer Network) where he said:
Thatâ€™s not how business works. If you want this kind of thing to be free and unlimited, why donâ€™t we start with the phone at your place? Can I declare your home telephone an â€˜open standardâ€™ and have all my friends come by and make calls at your expense? Can we order some pizzas on your credit card while weâ€™re at it?
However, despite the initial negative comments from Yahoo!, Ethan Stock, CEO of Zvents is reporting on his blog that:
I just got off the phone with the Yahoo Maps team, and they said that tomorrow they will be removing the “non-commerical only” clause from their TOS, and that Zvents, as a commercial site, is “golden” to start using their APIs.
It is amazing how quickly one post from Scoble can start some disruption – now all we need to see is Microsoft, Scoble’s own employers, follow suit! If they want to stay in Map search, they’ll have to – don’t you just love competition?