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Google Maps charts new territory into businesses

Google makes an aggressive pitch with its new Maps Engine Pro that the enterprise map can help guide businesses.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Is the map the next big shared file type to revolutionize businesses, the way that the spreadsheet and the document have? Google thinks so, and it's betting on enterprise maps in a big way.

Google's new Maps Engine Pro lets businesses import their data onto a map, from which they can then analyze it and share. Enterprise accounts will cost $5 per user per company.

Brian McClendon, vice president of Google Maps, was not shy about his intentions for the new tools.

"We believe this will be the new document type, and Google's adding it to the arsenal," he said from a room overlooking the Bay Bridge at Google's San Francisco office. "Every user can and should be a cartographer."

Google hopes that businesses will use Maps Engine Pro to help them chart and plan strategies, as it can be used for plotting not just client or customer addresses, but different price regions, locations where business is weak or nonexistent, and potential new locations.

"Anything that has an address or physical place of being is not helped by spreadsheets. Maps Engine Pro uploads that info and places it on a map," explained Heather Folsom, the Maps Engine Pro product manager.

She added that companies can use public data sheets as well, such as building development plans for a growing area or an area that's being rebuilt.

Features include changing map pins based on units; annotating maps and drawing boundaries; editing table data on the fly; adding new data columns; map sharing, as with any other type of Google Drive file; and measurement tools. Driving directions are coming soon, and map databases are limited to 10 layers and 2,000 rows per import.

The Google Maps Engine is also being expanded to offer new features. In addition to a mobile app for Android, with an iOS app in the works, new import tools can now handle data migration from legacy systems such as SAP. The import connector has an ESRI toolbar for transfering ArcGIS maps into Maps Engine.

Google is attempting to make businesses an offer they can't refuse. A free introductory enterprise account gives businesses all the tools of the full version, but with limited map queries per day. It includes full API access, so that they can test the tool set to make sure it matches their needs.

With Google already the dominant leader in consumer mapping technology, it's apparent that by setting its sights on business it wants even more of the global mapping pie.

Updated 2:45 p.m. PT with more information.