Google Maps will launch a feature next week that will allow any Web site or blog to more easily plant an embedded map anywhere on its site. This will essentially allow SMEs to more easily integrate a “find me” map on their Web sites for customers to navigate to them.
This will include the ability to embed MyMap mashups that are personalized or customized by businesses or bloggers in ways that relate to their businesses (i.e., a map of a downtown restaurant that is shown in relation to surrounding theaters, parking garages, etc.). The embedded maps will also have the full functionality of Google Maps, including clicking and dragging and satellite imagery.
This is yet another move that democratizes the world of Web site development. Another recent example is vFlyer’s classified widgets that allow any business (or blogger) to create and plant a classified inventory widget on its Web site – complete with photo slideshows, click-to-call and other features.
Meanwhile, Web hosting is coming down in price, and there are lots of free and inexpensive hosting and development offerings out there from Yahoo!, Google, Local.com and vFlyer (not to mention the long list of free blogging platforms). It’s also becoming possible for small businesses to make themselves known, virally, through social networks such as MySpace and Facebook, as we pointed out last week.
Given all these options, it’s now possible to scrap together a patchwork of disparate online tools to form an inexpensive (sometimes free) and feature-rich online identity. This, however, doesn’t mean that SMEs will do it in large numbers. The question will remain of whether SMEs in large part have the time, inclination or ability to do these things.
Though a small percentage will take advantage of it, mostly I think the answer is no. Local media companies with sales channels to push Web hosting, landing page and bundled clicks products will continue to have a considerable advantage for the foreseeable future. What do you think?