Sourced from By REUBEN SCHWARZ

Trade Me has followed up on its assault on the online jobs market by launching a website that lets visitors browse an electronic map of New Zealand, or call up a street map of a vicinity by keying in an address.

The smaps website was built using technology supplied by Wellington start-up ProjectX, which created mapping site

“We saw it as a bit of an opportunity,” says Trade Me technology head Jon Macdonald. “We didn’t think it was something that was done particularly well at the moment.”

Trade Me plans to develop smaps by linking its electronic maps with property listings from its own site, Mr Macdonald says. Car auctions may also link to maps, letting buyers see the seller’s location.

While he hopes it will cement Trade Me’s dominance of New Zealand’s online auction market, Mr Macdonald hopes smaps will also become the country’s most popular site simply for finding out where things are. It will face competition from existing sites such as Wises, Google Maps and ProjectX’s own Zoomin site.

Mr Macdonald says Trade Me wanted smaps to be “as simple and easy to use and fast as possible”.

“Whenever we do anything, we want it to be the best in the country.”

ProjectX managing director John Clegg says the company will use Trade Me as a reference customer to sell its technology overseas. It’s working with overseas clients to create customised map services using the Zoomin engine.

“Our map engine is actually world class. This whole local search market is really hotting up.”

Mr Clegg started his own auction website in India in 1999, about the same time that Sam Morgan founded Trade Me. Mr Clegg’s website merged with another, which global auction giant eBay bought for $55 million in 2004.

Trade Me will pay a monthly subscription to ProjectX to run smaps. The site uses geographic data supplied by Wellington’s Terralink.