For anyone who is big into the interactive map scene like us it’s been hard to miss all the noise in the last month about FourSquare’s breaking up with Google Maps and moving over to OpenStreetMap. Just about a week later the announcement came out that Apple had also switched it’s iPhoto management app to OpenStreetMap. In this very niche industry these are both very BIG announcements. Although these probably aren’t things that you put a lot of thought in, they are definitely on our radar.
What Does All This Mean for Mapping Going Forward?
Google holds a commanding control of the online mapping market. ComScore numbers show that Google Maps accounted for 71 percent of all online map usage in the month of February.
The change from FourSquare and Apple is around the fact that developers don’t like that Google has changed their policies recently to begin charging for API access. There is no doubt that Google has some of the best available data but there are other alternatives available. Besides OpenStreetMap a few that come to mind include Waze, Bing, MapQuest and Yahoo! Maps through their partnership with Nokia among other data providers.
In Google’s search for revenue streams they share their data, but more and more only for a price. We don’t see these being the last companies to make the jump to OpenStreetMap. With more and more people using the service it will only strengthen their hold and provide a better alternative for all.
How Does This Effect nuCloud?
The truth is, nuCloud initially looked to build our platform on top of Google Maps. We also noticed that Google charged for this access and it was something that we didn’t want to pass on to our customers. Because of this we went with OpenLayers. OpenLayers is one of the open source libraries used by OpenStreetMaps to power their map interface. You can see this in use on OpenStreetMap’s homepage. So we can actually claim to have been on top of these emerging technologies even before FourSquare and Apple! To date we have been very happy with OpenLayers and the development power that it provides.
Our mapping platform is currently more focused around marketing through gorgeous illustrated maps. Because of this we are nowhere near as concerned on wayfinding like FourSquare or Apple. Of course as we continue to expand and develop on the platform this could easily change. The good thing is in that case we will still be leveraging a system that will only be more deeply supported with more big name players who are adopting these open source technologies and building upon this framework.
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