A9 Maps...what is it good for who knows but it's great fun (you need to sing that line in the tune of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "WAR...What is it good for").
Ah the bubble of the 90's what were we thinking, dot coms that were going to all let us retire at 40, giving us an endless supply of wealth and prosperity (not quite sure who was going to be left to take out the garbage but what did we care we were on the investment rollercoaster).
So here we are in 2005 all the smarter and the wiser, we only leverage ourselves with mortgages to 90% instead of 110%, and technology is there to earn substantial ROI's....not to deliver the cheapest pet food possible.
Well i don't know about you but I've seen enough "interesting ideas" over the past few months to make me think that the boom times are here again.
Welcome to A9 Maps, http://maps.a9.com/ (A9 is the privately owned search engine from Amazon), now I know you have seen quite a few new mapping engines over the past few months, and some of them were more usable http://www.housingmaps.com/ (a craigslist/google api) than others http://moon.google.com/ (an internal google staff members project).
So what is so unique about A9 Maps...well it's the guys driving around the entire USA in 4 wheel drives and a high speed camera, yep you read that right, they are taking photographs of every city, town and street of America.
What's it good for? well I'm not sure, I've certainly found it enjoyable checking out different streetscapes across the USA, we looked at a suburb in SF that we were thinking of moving to at one stage, I've been able to look at places in Boston that I wanted to go, it's not perfect, there are some sections that the photos obviously haven't worked and are blank but it's great to take a virtual tour around our block http://maps.a9.com/ourstreet (and as much of the rest of New York that you have time for).
Can I explain the business model for this, no not really, who really knows but until then it's a nifty tool, i for one would be lost without my google mobile on my Treo (it's google mapping on a mobile via gprs) would I pay a monthly fee for it? sure maybe - I'd like to see some additional functionality and I also think that you would need to deliver a highly level of service and funtionality in order to charge for it but it's a great first generation application.
Have fun with it.