NORAD Santa Tracker Replaces Google With Bing – Has Google Been Naughty?


Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

When the 25 million or so people around the Earth go to track Santa on Christmas Eve, there may be some confusion.

After over a decade of tracking Santa together, Google and NORAD have decided to mutually split. Instead, NORAD will be using Bing on their site, while Google will begin their own Santa tracking system.

The site for the NORAD Tracks Santa Program will run Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud-computing platform, Bing Maps and will feature Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Android Santa-tracking apps. NORAD’s newest rival Google will not only have their own Santa tracking website, but also a new Chrome extension or an Android app and Google+, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

The switch from Google to Microsoft’s Bing seems inexplicable, as far as users go. For example, Bing’s market share is only 4%, while Google boosts 89%, in the U.K. Perhaps Google wanted to branch out on their own. Take what the blog post by the VP of Google Maps and Google Earth, Brian McClendon, recently stated:

While we’ve been tracking Santa since 2004 with Google Earth, this year a team of dedicated Google Maps engineers built a new route algorithm to chart Santa’s journey around the world on Christmas Eve. On his sleigh, arguably the fastest airborne vehicle in the world, Santa whips from city to city delivering presents to millions of homes.”

Sounds like Google wants to track the big man in the red suit all by themselves. However, it’s not like NORAD actually needs Google. The the North American Aerospace Defense Command does have “four high-tech systems to track Santa—radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets.”

The tradition of the NORAD Tracks Santa Program goes back to 1955, when a Sears department store in Colorado Springs accidentally gave out the telephone number for NORAD’s precursor ,the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center, as the number for Santa Claus. Surprisingly, the man in charge that night, Colonel Shoup, ordered his staff to give everyone that called a “current location” for Santa Claus. The tradition stuck even after CONAD was replaced by NORAD in 1958. Despite misconceptions, the program is financed by corporate sponsors and not taxpayers in the United States or Canada and is handled by both military and civilian volunteers.

In 1997, NORAD set up it’s own Santa Tracker website and began using Google Earth by 2004. Still, they receive about 70,000 telephone calls from more than two hundred countries and territories. In 2011, iOS and Android apps was introduced, which contained live updates and an interactive game similar to Angry Birds. Suffice to say, NORAD has embraced technological advances in something as silly as tracking Santa, at least to adults. Whether they use Google or Bing, NORAD has seemingly done the impossible. Create a new tradition involving Santa Claus, and they’ve done it successfully because of technology.

If you want to track Santa via NORAD and Bing’s site, it will begin on December 24 at 2 a.m. Eastern Time. You can also receive live updates through their new apps, sending an email to or by calling 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723).

If you prefer Google, the fun begins for the search giant at 2:00 a.m. Pacific Time on Christmas Eve via their official Santa tracking site, apps and Google+, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

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