The evolution of Google Maps continues. First it evolves from a pure-play mapping application to merge with a community and business directory, and now it adopts an application that can follow you on your mobile phone. Google today has launched "Local for Mobile", a downloadable application for viewing Google Local and Google Maps on your mobile phone. It combines the directions and business directory services of Google Local (and Maps) with integrated search results from Google Search. You can even view the satellite views from Google Maps through this application.
While 'Local for mobile' is only launching in beta today it does only work on a handful of devices. It is not supported on devices provided by Verizon, Nextel, Alltel, U.S. Cellular phones and does not work on Blackberry or Palm devices. You also must have a data plan, which allows you to access the Internet from your mobile device. Google notes that if your device is not supported for the downloadable application, you can still access Google Local from your device's browser by pointing it here: http://mobile.google.com/local. There are also many other mobile Google Maps viewing applications listed here on Google Maps Mania that do support the devices that Google Local for mobile does not. They can be found here.
An application like this from Google will do many things to advance this new Internet-based digital mapping phenomenon. First, it will encourage map-mashup creators to consider small form factor devices in their development efforts, not only focusing on the desktop monitor. This will allow us to use Google Maps mashups and Google Local's services as we move about our communities. I think this, in turn, will push the adoption of data services for mobile carriers by giving the consumer a compelling reason to purchase premium data access instead of just voice. This may push the price-point for data access down and finally start to move the Internet from the desktop to the mobile device - where it should be.
If anyone has the chance to use this application, please post a comment with your reviews!