Virtual Earth Virtually Ignored? (aka What's in a name?)

You know, of all the online "Live" services that Microsoft has, I think the mapping service has been one of best.  However, hardly no one knows about it!

On Thursday last week, Google added their new myMaps feature to Google Maps.  Wow!  The tech community went nuts about it as witnessed by the headlines on TechMeme that day.  Wanting to see what all the excitement was about, I checked out myMaps.  It's pretty cool.

It finally gives Google Maps' users the ability to do what they've been able to do for almost a year now with Live Collections in Virtual Earth.  Why so much attention for Google, but none for Virtual Earth when it added virtually the same features a year ago? 

I have a sneaking suspicion it's all in the name...  or lack thereof.   Dare Obasanjo laments that...

This product has now officially gone through more names than I've had ex-girlfriends. It's been named MSN Virtual Earth, Windows Live Local, Windows Live Maps, Live Search Maps and now Live Maps. It's sad that we are intent on screwing one of the coolest products we are shipping these days in this way. :(

I agree with Dare.  The Microsoft mapping service is in no mans land right now on the Internet!  There was a new release of what is now called "Live Maps" just last week, but the site still says "Live Search" with no hint of the word "Map" other than in the URL.  And that's IF you arrived at the site by entering http://maps.live.com in the address bar!  There are no less than eight different URLs that map (no pun intended) to what I still call Virtual Earth.

In general, I've always thought that marketing was an unnecessary thing and that most good products sell themselves without marketing.  However, I'm not a believer in that mantra anymore.  This is clearly a case where poor marketing has led to a great service being virtually ignored.  And that sucks, because I think Virtual Ea-- uh, Live Maps is truly the BEST mapping service out there!

Word to the Windows Live team: PLEASE please please change the name back to "Virtual Earth"!  This great service started out with the coolest name.  Make it cool again so that it's easier for folks to learn about and find!

[Update 4-17-07:] Yesterday, I posted a screencast demonstrating the Collections feature in Live Maps.