If Yahoo shut down its mapping APIs, would anyone notice? Apparently not, as there's been little written about the company's recent announcement that makes official what we've all seen for some time: Yahoo will not be a player in Maps, instead relying on its partner, Nokia. As of September 13, the Yahoo Maps API will go away. The company is already suggesting developers migrate to Nokia's Ovi Maps API.
The announcement post gets into the details of the decision:
Q: Why is Yahoo! removing the Maps APIs service?
A: In order to focus on our core strengths and deliver new innovations, we are reprioritizing our portfolio of products and services – increasing investment in some areas while scaling back in others. This will allow us to continue improving the Yahoo! Maps and Local Search experience and allow us to focus on providing best-in-class digital media, content and communications experiences.
Yahoo is no stranger to these sorts of shutdowns. In December it pulled the plug on a still-vibrant Delicious. Based on tremendous user feedback, the company sold Delicious to the founders of YouTube to spin off as a new company.
It's in a Better Place Now
On one hand, it's a shame to see Maps go, since it was once a promising developer property at Yahoo. Yahoo announced its mapping API in 2005, the same day as Google's. Some of the earlier popular mashups, such as Google vs Yahoo Maps show that it wasn't so obvious back then which to use.
However, the current Yahoo Maps API is so far behind the times, that it's almost better to just be clear. There are many better options now and nostalgia is no reason to keep around a platform that is no longer being updated. The latest version, 3.8, has been around at least since 2008.
The partnership with Nokia was the first sign that Yahoo was preparing to offload mapping. However, while Yahoo Maps proper is powered by Ovi Maps, this is the first announcement that Yahoo would refer developers to Ovi.
A more recent sign came at last month's Open Hack Europe. The best local hack prize went to one with a Google Map front and center. "We only require that submitted hacks use at least one Yahoo API," Yahoo's Todd Hays wrote in a statement at the time.
Still, it was now clear to everyone, including Yahoo, that its mapping API was on life support. And in a quickly moving web, that's a bad place to be, which is why Yahoo is making it official. So, on September 13, surrounded by its loved ones, Yahoo Maps API will be going to a better place.
Hat tip: Justin Houk