With Saturday's article, I discussed business partnerships and how vital they are for companies to leverage the talents and most importantly, patents, which each entity owns in order to push innovation further. Now, there is a new strategic partnership emerging between Microsoft with their Bing Maps and Nokia to deliver a unified map style based on one set of design principles with the goal of providing a more intuitive and pleasing online mapping experience. Designers from both Bing Maps and Nokia Maps joined the elements between the two platforms, making specific improvements to image contrast and the usability of the interface.

The designers wanted to differentiate the map experience they put forth for their respective brands from other map formats on the market, most notable among them being Google Maps. As a result, the new Bing and Nokia maps have a decidedly different look and functionality. Central to the redesign was the issue of clarity and context. Designers addressed the level of detail given at each stage of zoom focus. There are a number of different reasons why people use maps online and each use requires a slightly different experience and level of detail. For example, if someone is double checking a road routing, then they do not want smaller-scale details. This is different form the person looking at directions street by street or searching the map for the location of area businesses, which would require a high level of detail.

Thus, the Bing and Nokia designers developed a level of detail appropriate for each degree of zoom and pan out. It is the intent that this will limit information overload that can exist and ultimately encourage a better user experience. As such, the two companies are sharing a common description: Go in for detail, pull back for context. Local search is rising in importance for search engine optimization and for companies gaining greater online exposure. With this said, Google Maps  holds a dominant position on the map market in large part due to their position as the top search engine. Businesses looking to gain exposure through local usually start by registering on Google Places which identifies the business in Google Maps and allows them to offer additional detail that SEO companies optimize.  

he new map interface is now available on both mobile and desktop versions of Bing and Nokia maps, and as a result, Bing and Nokia Maps now offer a viable alternative to the dominant Google Maps. Over time, if the end-user experience is improved to the point that it draws consumers from using other maps, more SEO attention could transition to these new map platforms. This would have implications for businesses looking to optimize for local and utilizing map platforms. The improved platform from Bing and Nokia may compete with Google and others for business placement, and businesses should take the initiative to investigate how they could be positively impacted by the redesigned mapping.