Might Google Maps be hoisted on its open source petard?

Might Google Maps be hoisted on its open source petard?

Summary: Could the "Wikipedia of maps" do to Google what Google's Android has done to Symbian?

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TOPICS: Open Source, Google
6

There is growing evidence that OpenStreetMap, an open source Wiki-based mapping system based in England, is becoming a serious threat to Google Maps.

Could the "Wikipedia of maps" do to Google what Google's Android has done to Symbian? (The illustration shows the current OpenStreetMaps view of my home town.)

AOL's MapQuest unit is especially high on OpenStreetMap, having opened new map sites in India and Europe around the product.

Since it's dependent on user input there's not a lot of there there, but apps based on it are still coming out for the iPhone and Android.

Microsoft is also using OpenStreetMap in Bing. A U.S. unit of the OpenStreetMap Foundation was incorporated earlier this year.

What's possible is illustrated by The Bike Hub, an iPhone app with crowd-sourced data that lets cyclists in England steer around traffic. Reviews are positive, with free satellite navigation (even if a bit kludgy) approved of heartily. (I'd love it if they tracked hills as well as traffic.)

OpenStreetMap says it has 300,000 registered map makers on its site, but that it's the idea behind it -- free data users can adapt to their needs -- that is its most powerful feature.

It's the excitement of user-generated content that Google Maps was trying to access when it opened up its APIs. The question becomes, then, one of how open is open. Google Maps is open like Windows, while OpenStreetMaps appears to be open like Linux.

Ouch.

Topics: Open Source, Google

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6 comments
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  • RE: Might Google Maps be hoisted on its open source petard?

    Thanks for the mention.

    The routing engine does analyse hills and, where possible, tries to avoid them. Through the Naismith's Rule, the timings are also altered for uphills, and downhills.

    The Bike Hub app is not just for England, it's for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, too. But, sorry, not for the US.

    Because so much of rural US is terra incognito to OpenStreetMaps, the only cycle routing apps available are for cities.

    The Bike Hub app is free, paid for by the UK's Bicycle Association and Association of Cycle Traders.

    http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/bike-hub-cycle-journey-planner/id391782662?mt=8
    carltonreid
    • RE: Might Google Maps be hoisted on its open source petard?

      @carltonreid Have to schedule a bicycling vacation.
      DanaBlankenhorn
    • RE: Might Google Maps be hoisted on its open source petard?

      @carltonreid Dana has fallen for a common American trait, confusing the United Kingdom with England. As a British ex-pat living in the USA, I always find this annoying.
      colinmeister
  • Yes, OSM is massively popular.

    OSM is patent-free, and licensed to be used without restrictions.
    I'd say its possibly even more of a craze in central Europe than in Britain. All the places where Linux is big.
    peter_erskine@...
    • RE: Might Google Maps be hoisted on its open source petard?

      @peter_erskine@... Yup. In some German cities, OSM detail is now at the level of every single street lamp.

      That's a layer I wouldn't need to turn on - but it would be good for drunks, navigating back home from pubs, and not wanting to smash into street furniture...
      carltonreid
  • RE: Might Google Maps be hoisted on its open source petard?

    "Google Maps is open like Windows, while OpenStreetMaps appears to be open like Linux."

    Well Google Maps is successful like Windows, while OpenStreetMaps appears to be successful like Linux. Which is not to say it isn't successful, better at some things or good. But it's a different level of success.
    Spatha