This past weekend controversy erupted when someone noticed that Google was redirecting traffic from Google Maps (for mobile web) on Windows Phones to Google.com. Immediately the conspiracy theories began to fly. The claim was that Google had just won an antitrust reprieve from the FTC so now the company was sticking it to competitor Microsoft with impunity.
We agree that it looked bad — and the conspiracy theory made for a sexy and provocative story — however it simply wasn’t accurate. Danny Sullivan wrote an in-depth article about what happened.
Google itself offered a number of slightly different explanations for what was going on. But basically the company said that the IE mobile browser experience of Google Maps on Windows Phones was sub-optimal, hence the redirect to Google.com:
In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to Google.com where they could at least make local searches. The Firefox mobile browser did offer a somewhat better user experience and that’s why there is no redirect for those users.
Recent improvements to IE mobile and Google Maps now deliver a better experience and we are currently working to remove the redirect. We will continue to test Google Maps compatibility with other mobile browsers to ensure the best possible experience for users.
Google told us the redirect had been in place for months but promised to remove it because the newest version of mobile IE had improved. Accordingly the company has now done that, as of yesterday. There is no more redirect from Google Maps to Google.com on mobile IE.
One thing that’s interesting to consider is whether this “fix” would have happened but for all the controversy. Certainly Google might not have been motivated as quickly to re-examine the issue.
Separately deals provider Scoutmob announced a distribution relationship with Google’s Field Trip. Field Trip is a kind of augmented reality, local discovery app (Android, but coming to iOS) that uses select location aware data feeds to tell you about the world around you.
Data and content sources include Arcadia, Thrillist, Food Network, Zagat, Eater, Sunset, Cool Hunting, WeHeart, Inhabitat, Remodelista, Atlas Obscura, Daily Secret, Songkick and Flavorpill.
Scoutmob becomes the third deals source to be included in Field Trip. There are also offers from Google Offers and Vayable. Scoutmob has its own mobile app and also has third party distribution deals with Foursquare and Foodspotting.
Niantic Labs’ Hanke previously told me that deals and vouchers are helpful and “cool” as opposed to conventional mobile advertising, which may be more intrusive and less interesting to users.