That’s right, two tech titans enter, and one company leaves with the crown of most-visited Santa tracker this holiday season. Microsoft earned the right to be the official map provider for NORAD’s tracking effort again this year, but Google, which has previously held that job, is still hosting its own tracker.
According to both Google and Microsoft, Santa has already taken flight, but the two companies don’t quite agree on where exactly he is, or how many presents he’s delivered. Google’s Santa has already dropped off more than 3 billion parcels, while Microsoft’s has been comparatively stingy with only 1.9 billion presents delivered as of this writing. While Google’s Santa stops to deliver presents, Microsoft’s is the pinnacle of efficiency, slinging gifts out of his sleigh mid-air and moving on.
This whole business allegedly started when a typo in a Sears catalog in Colorado Springs misprinted the number of a line kids could call to hear a prerecorded message from Santa–and the misprint pointed at least one youngster to call the headquarters of NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD). As the story goes, a colonel answered the phone, and quickly found himself playing the role of Kris Kringle, so as not to spoil a young girl’s Christmas.
Since then, NORAD has been operating a Santa tracking hotline, and in recent years, has moved to the web with the help of Google and Microsoft.
There’s still one looming question in the Santa tracker battle, though: will Santa reach Redmond or Mountain View first?