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Analysts: Google Maps wins, rivals 'stagnate'

Cowen and Co. argues that Google Maps surpasses rivals in features and will help give the company dominant mobile search share.

Google Maps has expanded its lead in features in the last year, a move that will help the company vanquish rival services in mobile search, Cowen and Co. analysts said Monday.

"Since our initial survey in July 2007, innovation at (AOL's) MapQuest and Yahoo Maps has stagnated," and although Microsoft has improved Live Search Maps, it remains the least popular of the four top services, said analysts Jim Friedland and Kevin Kopelman. "Yahoo and MapQuest do not have the resources to keep pace and are forced to aggressively monetize a declining franchise in the maps segment."

Why does it matter? Because with the Apple's iPhone, Google's Android operating system, and many other efforts are bringing the Internet to mobile phones, and there's a wealth of untapped ad revenue in that market.

"Google's aggressive investment in maps positions the company to achieve a dominant share of search in the mobile Internet," the analysts said.

Specific advantages at Google Maps include Street View and public transportation directions, the analysts said.

Google Maps also has just launched traffic monitoring and prediction for parts of the United Kingdom, Google Blogoscoped pointed out.