I spoke with Yahoo! last week about tonight’s update to their Maps Beta (and was fortunate enough to get a live demo at tonight’s Search SIG). They’ve added satellite maps (with hybrid views) to their Beta, but not your normal some grey here, some color there maps. These are smooth color images at 1 meter per pixel for all of the continental US. It’s very nice when going over rural areas. In urban areas however Yahoo’s images are not as impressive as Google’s or Microsoft’s, but they do allow you to navigate an area based on landmarks. They’ve also added maps for the entire world at 15 meters per pixel (which is on par with other major services).
Adding satellite maps to their beta is the right move. It was the major piece lacking from their initial offering. Now that they have delivered them, it’s obvious why they waited. They seem to want to compete on depth and breadth – not on speed to market. When you combine this with their multi-point routing and live traffic layer they are building up a quality mapping service that can compete with any of the other portals (and eventually replace their legacy service). With these new maps being released via their APIs (available in both Flash and AJAX) I expect to see more Yahoo! Maps mashups.