Baidu’s cute isometric 3d city renderings are doing the rounds again, but they’re not the only thing interesting about the Chinese website’s maps.
When you first go to the home page, the map defaults to China. This isn’t that odd: so does Google China’s Maps, and most of the Google country domains do the same thing. What is odd is that barely anything outside China is shown.
A portion of the screen for the default view of Baidu Maps.
Unlike Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ovi, you can’t drag the map past the international date line. Instead, there’s a hard edge.
If you do scroll westwards, the lack of detail becomes clear. I assume the labels are for continents, not countries. What’s certainly true is that when you zoom in merely one step from the default, the coastlines (and labels) vanish, turning the entire map grey.
I wonder whether this reflects some sort of official thinking (“the rest of the world might as well not exist”), or a more prosaic technical difficulty (perhaps problems in sourcing data). Still, I thought that both the hard edges and lack of detail were worth noting.