Saturday, April 19, 2014

Melway?

My wife was filling in the application form for my son's enrolment into preparatory class next year.

The item after our home address on the form is the Melway's reference number. She remarked: "What age is this? How will I suppose to know what the Melway's number is?" I told her to leave this item blank as I am 100% confident that provision of our street address will be sufficient for the school's needs.

Several years ago, I still relied on Melway for street directions. But nowadays, I simply resort to Google Maps and Public Transport Victoria's Journey Planner to do the planning and to use a GPS when I am driving to my destination. I wonder how many people still purchase Melway and what do they use it mainly for? The paper version is so bulky that you can only leave it on the car and it cannot compete with GPS with regards to convenience and speed of finding street directions. The price of GPS has come down a lot over the years so it is pretty affordable for car owners.

I understand that Melway has released an iPhone version (Ref 1) which I have not looked at. For a map service to be useful today, it has to be integrated with other capabilities such as navigation guide, traffic updates, search for amenities, public transport journey planner, creation of custom maps and itineraries, geolocation, etc. Melway will have a tough time competing against the likes of Google Maps and GPS providers such as Garmin, TomTom, Navman and so on.

It will be interesting to see how Melway can evolve to stay relevant in today's world of rapidly changing technologies.

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