Better late than never? AOL-owned MapQuest has finally added street view images, two-and-a-half years after Google (NSDQ: GOOG) first added similar images to Google Maps. Google has been able to take advantage of that head start, along with other unique features, to surpass MapQuest’s once large lead in the mapping market, which is likely to become even more significant as smartphone adoption increases. In April, Hitwise said that Google Maps had edged out MapQuest in market share for the first time, taking 39.38 percent of the market to MapQuest’s 39.14 percent in the U.S., although MapQuest still retained the lead in terms of time spent. The research firm also suggested that, at least in Great Britain, ‘Street View’ was a big driver of traffic to Google Maps.
MapQuest’s addition comes as Microsoft too has doubled down on its mapping business. Earlier this month, Microsoft said it would add street view images to Bing Maps for the first time.
Both Bing Maps and MapQuest, however, have a ways to go to match Google’s coverage. Microsoft said it had partial street-level images for 100 U.S. cities, while MapQuest has coverage of some major U.S. metro areas. Google already has coverage of much of the U.S., including rural areas, along with at least fifteen additional countries.
Meanwhile, AOL (NYSE: AOL) is reportedly shopping MapQuest. One theory floated this week-end by Screenwerk‘s Greg Sterling, based on comments by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, is that AOL could possibly outsource the back-end of MapQuest to a partner, possibly Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT). Monday’s news, however, makes it seem as though at least for now MapQuest is still busily building up features itself.