It's "Go Mobile" week at Google, and across all of Google's blogs, we're giving insight into our philosophy about mobile versions of our products.  If there's one product amongst all of Google's that was destined to "go mobile", it is without a doubt Google Maps.

I still remember when I moved to San Francisco several years ago -- before the advent of smartphones -- and I didn't know may way around town.  Driving up and down the city's crazy hills was sometimes a fun adventure, but other times an exercise in frustration.  When I knew where I wanted to go before I left home, I'd usually print out driving directions beforehand.  But any time I left home without directions, or if I decided to go somewhere spur of the moment, all I had was a clumsy paper map.  It's not easy pulling over to the side of the road on a 40 degree hill to try to make out the tiny streets on a paper map.  And if you've spilled coffee on your map, or it's become tattered... forget it, it's much less useful. So I rarely looked at the map, and I got lost.  A lot.

When I think about these experiences, I realize why I remain so passionate about Google Maps for mobile.  You get all the power of Google Maps that you use at home, but you can carry it around like you can a paper map. Actually, easier than a paper map since there's no folding, and it connects you to more than just information about where the streets are. Now that I know the city a little better, I can be spontaneous not just when I take a wrong turn. Google Maps on my phone lets me decide to go somewhere spur of the moment, with no preparation and pre-printing directions. The addition of a business directory (remember those giant books?) is liberating as well. If I get a craving for something like "burgers" or "pizza", I just type my craving into Google Maps, which returns all relevant results nearby, and presto, hunger abated.  With features like transit and walking directions, I can now figure out how to get there without a car.  Street View even helps me recognize the place when I get there.

So if you still haven't got a smartphone, now is a great time to go out and get one.  We've got a lot of engineers building Google Maps for all the major mobile operating systems: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Palm, S60, and Windows.

Once you take the plunge into smartphones, then getting Google Maps for your phone is easy.  Just visit in your mobile browser, or go here to send a link to your phone. And if you have any questions for us on our mobile products, submit them here by 11:59pm Pacific time on Tuesday 10/13, and we'll answer some of the top questions on Wednesday on the Google Mobile blog.

Posted by Steve Lee, Product Manager for Google Maps for mobile