Yesterday, we reported that Google was redirecting Windows Phone users who tried to access maps.google.com to Search instead. Google has offered an explanation, stating that the redirect was in place because Internet Explorer mobile on Windows Phones provided a lackluster experience. In light of improvements with the browser, however, Google says that it is now in the process of taking down the redirect.
News of the Maps redirect surfaced shortly after the FTC's long probe into the company's alleged harmful practices came to an end with Google receiving a mere wrist slapping. Speculation abounded that this was a move on Google's part to harm its competition, something fueled by the recent claim by Microsoft's Vice President David Heiner that Google is deliberately harming Windows Phone. Another issue fueling speculation was that users could still access Maps via maps.google.co.uk.
Google says that the redirect was only a product decision, not a malicious attempt on its end to backhand its competition. The company then went on to state that Google Maps was designed for WebKit and that because Internet Explorer mobile used a different rendering engine, it could not access Maps. Many pointed out that the explanation didn't make complete sense, given that the desktop version of IE 10 can access Maps fine. Google then went on to clarify, offering this statement to The Next Web:
"We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users. In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to Google.com where they could at least make local searches. The Firefox mobile browser did offer a somewhat better user experience and that’s why there is no redirect for those users."