Will Yahoo Outsource Its Maps?

Buried in the San Francisco Chronicle’s coverage of job cuts at Yahoo is the suggestion that Yahoo may farm out its maps to another company, which is generating a certain amount of reaction in the map blogosphere: All Points Blog, GeoWebGuru.

Here’s the actual quote from the story: “Yahoo Maps may be outsourced to another company, analyst Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research said in a recent research note.” Now I’ve followed the tech industry enough to take an analyst’s speculation with more than a few grains of salt — analysts routinely predict that Apple, for example, will release some product or other not because they have any intelligence that says that they will, but because it makes logical sense (to them) that they will.

Having said that, when I read Tyler Bell’s recent interviews, it’s hard to see any aspects of Yahoo’s geotechnology strategy that absolutely requires them to own an in-house mapping solution. I suppose Fire Eagle and Flickr could get by with someone else’s maps.

But on the other other hand, while competing with the likes of Google, MapQuest and Microsoft cannot be easy or inexpensive for the beleaguered Yahoo, my preference would be to have as much competition in this space as possible. Yahoo’s got a lot of potential synergies there.