customers with a clue

you have no idea how refreshing it is to work with customers with a clue. on tuesday, our second yellow pages project went live: local.ch, covering all of switzerland. local.ch was very gracious to let us have a geeky field day with nice urls, hcard support (view source), geo-aggregated blog posts per city (via geourl), for a start. given that local.ch is the answer of a staid media company to the competitive pressures of the internet, i find it quite refreshing to see their CEO blog (on a blog hosted by my former startup KAYWA, no less :), or post pictures of their ground troops (ie, sales) after a slam dunk on flickr.

meanwhile today, we spent all day in a very productive exchange with the goyellow team to talk about new features (more about those when we deliver on them..). their willingness to listen to my crazy ideas for 8 hours straight surprised even me 😉 they quickly took up blogging as a way to communicate with the german blogosphere, with good results.

and finally, we also launched housing search and hotel locator sites for homegate and hotelplan, respectively. quite the busy week :)

user-generated accuracy

Now that GoYellow Maps has been live for a couple days, i find it interesting that the most common reaction is to note that the map data is out of date in some places, by between 1 and 4 years. we are not alone with this: map.search.ch pretty much saw the same phenomenon, and google maps encounters it too.

i am wondering if this is a trick that perception plays on us: if we see an image of sufficiently high quality, our disbelief is suspended, and we assume immediacy. case in point, when my dad first saw the nice bird’s eye pictures from MSN local, he immediately asked why the cars in the picture are not moving. while we wait for the advent of real time satellite data, the lesson seems to be that the additional precision and detail of hybrid maps make any problems with accuracy more obvious. overall, i think it is a fair trade-off given that these hybrid maps fascinate people enough to seek out these inaccuracies. i mean, when is the last time you heard someone get excited about inaccuracies in a telephone book?

it might be possible, given easy to use tools, to harness this deep local knowledge people have about their immediate surroundings. at which point you’d have yet another industry hopping onto the user-generated content bandwagon.

mapping out germany

GoYellow Munich

The screenshot above is from GoYellow maps, a german yellow pages publisher. they are the first customer of my new startup and went live a couple days ago. it is an online map for germany with hybrid satellite/airplane and vector views. GoYellow allows you to overlay this map with yellow pages data, so it’s easy to look for wifi hotspots in berlin or radar traps across germany. of course, it also has the standard issue restaurants, atms, public transport, you name it.

bernhard has more. as noted elsewhere, the image quality is one of the distinguishing features of this application. together with our partner endoxon, we beat the quality you see at the GYM (Google Yahoo Microsoft).

speaking of the GYM, i get asked a lot how you can compete against them. besides kicking their ass in quality, there are quite a few companies that are afraid of going to the GYM, and are looking for partners. we are one such partner workout buddy. (ok, i will shut up about the GYM jokes now).

so what’s next for us? besides settling on a name (heh), there will be more coverage at that crunchy sub-meter resolution, goodies for the mashup crowd and more help for innovative users like this guy who is doing a competitive analysis of his cafe with data from the map. and more.