Where is Santa? NORAD, Google get competitive with tracking St. Nick

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A basic tenet of capitalism is consumer choice. Competition keeps prices low and pushes companies to make a better product.

Even Santa Claus trackers can't get away from that, apparently.

This year, you have two options to keep tabs on St. Nick, his reindeer and sleigh full of presents as he makes his way around the world tonight.

There's the longstanding NORAD Santa Tracker – a service the military organization has done via numerous mediums since 1958, the website explains.

Then there's the newer Google Santa Tracker, which is in its third year as a standalone service.

You see, the two trackers actually used to be partners, as Digital Trend reported – from 2007 through 2011, the NORAD tracker operated with Google Maps and Google Earth (despite the search engine-turned-Web behemoth running its own, less-touted version).

In 2012 however, the two broke up. NORAD teamed with Microsoft (the company it's still with), and the tracker runs on Bing Maps. And Google has its own.

According to a Marketing Land story, neither side has offered much for details about why it happened.

NORAD says the split wasn't about a bidding war, or a money issue. It's a volunteer effort, and the partners involved often switch.

Google, in a statement, seemed to hint it had to do with the company wanting to showcase its own services – at least, that's the author's interpretation.

So, which one is better?

Both services offer full interactive maps, that show Santa's path and offer a "presents delivered" tracker. But they seem to disagree on the route – as of shortly after 6 p.m., NORAD had Santa over Iceland; Google had him in western Africa.

Both services have apps available – Google only has it for Android, while NORAD has it for iPhone, Android and Windows phones.

Some people offer comparison reviews: Here's one from Search Engine Land, and another from The Next Web.

NORAD also has the advantage of a dedicated Twitter feed (seen below).

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And, of course, nearly 60 years of experience. Though that doesn't always mean much when the competition heats up.

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