Takashi U posted his finding in Japanese to Flickr, but the screenshot needs no translation: Google Spreadsheets does geocoding.
Sort of, at least. It’s an undocumented feature, and it may be because it isn’t ready for prime time yet, but the implications sure are interesting, especially if you’re looking for ways in which a future Google Office might use Google’s strengths to leapfrog Microsoft.
Basically, just fill a cell with =GoogleLookup(“New York”, “latitude”) and up comes the answer. Instead of “New York”, you can reference another cell, of course, like so:
But here’s the problem: This isn’t yet formalized geocoding, and the sources are varied. For Cairo, for example, the latitude is correct and comes from three reputable sources (just hover over the cell to view them) but the longitude is for Cairo, Illinois. Specifying which Cairo (or Paris, or London) by appending a country name doesn’t work at the moment.
Still, this is a wonderful conceptual leap, and it has implications that are similar to Yahoo!’s Pipes, which, by the way, got a serious geocoding module two weeks ago as part of a major update. (Yes, it gets coordinates for both Cairo and Paris right — GoogleLookup does not).