What previously happened: Google started out with Google Local, a businesses in your area look-up, in March 2004. Then they released Google Maps, a mapping service, in February 2005. Then they realized the two are much the same and in iterative steps merged their functionality. Google still had the service available on both local.google.com and maps.google.com, but called everything “Google Local.”
And now? Now the Googlers changed their mind once more and named everything “Google Maps,” including the link from the Google.com front-page. This goes to show for many releases, Google products undergo an evolutionary progress, as opposed to everything being planned far in advance. Now when are they going to take the final step and rename Google Earth (the former Keyhole) to Google Maps Desktop?
[Thanks TomHTML, Or, Google’s World.]