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Friday, February 17, 2006

What does this trend in open source software mean for the geospatial business? I’ve had this question asked of me a few times this week.

Data point: Oracle buys Sleepycat Software. Sleepycat is an open source database company. Why would they do this? I think it is to sell more services and niche applications. Sleepycat sells both a commerical version of their database as well as a free, open source version.

Now, this by itself has no true bearing on geospatial technology. But it is an interesting acquisition. Look at it this way: What if more geospatial companies, in addition to what Autodesk has done with MapGuide, decided to put their products into the open source hopper or decide to build solutions on open source instead of their own technology. Why would they do this?

  1. Offer more solution options: MapInfo, Intergraph, and Autodesk have all professed their desire to provide "complete solutions" for their customers…not just COTS. Why not distribute the code for MapInfo Professional or GeoMedia into the open source category. Could they leverage this strategy to sell more services? Possibly.
  2. Avert competitive threats: I think the days of selling boxes of GIS or desktop mapping software as the primary revenue generating source for larger companies are quickly evaporating. There are too many online alternatives available that are taking their place. Have you seen the list of products and data options offered by Claritas? The list is a mile long and very industry specific. Use free, open source technology from the open source grab bag (not just their own software) as a unique angle to win business against a competitor. Again, the objective is to offer more options in case a customer "demands" open source.
  3. The train has left the station: A few years ago there were just a few open source geospatial options. GRASS, PostGIS, etc. But this list is growing all the time. Perhaps it’s an inevitable trend?
So who stands to gain and who gets hurt? The larger companies will survive because they might be able to move some of their software to open source, ala Autodesk. But I have to wonder if the smaller, niche desktop mapping companies (Tactitian, Caliper, Manifold) won’t get squashed.

by Joe Francica on 02/17 at 06:53 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The Albany Business Review covers MapInfo’s 2006 stockholders meeting by noting the company’s best first quarter ever was this year. The company closed 2005 with $149.4 million in revenue and three acquisitions.

The efforts in diversity - of geography, products and industries is paying off, the article goes on. And, more acquisitions are expected.

“We are no longer just a software company,” said Mark Cattini, MapInfo’s president and CEO.

Update: There’s a bit more on the meeting, including Q&A, from the Times Union.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/17 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Search Engine Watch let me know about an Adveritising Age (free sub required) report on the cable channel’s paid use of Google Maps to promote and support the show.

Ad Age notes:

[HBO] is likely to be the first advertiser to have paid the search giant to use its map technology for promotional purposes.


“The Google thing, we are really excited about,” said Courtney Monroe, senior VP-advertising, HBO. “It is a geo-visual tour of the TV series, a very interactive way to get people caught up.

The maps will be supported by AdWords ads and go live February 27. The company behind the work is not a GIS company, but a promotions company, Deep Focus.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/17 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Analytical Surveys, Inc. (ASI) recently stated it woud diversify into the energy area. I thought that meant more GIS for that arena. Apparently not, the Houston Chronicle reports the company bought a 20% stake in a relavtively new oil well in Oklahoma.

Analytical Surveys, Inc. announced it has acquired a 20 percent working interest in a producing Oklahoma oil and natural gas well. The Company acquired the interest for $300,000 cash from TD Energy LLC, the operator of the well and owner of the remaining 80 percent working interest. 

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/16 at 03:05 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Eight academic recipients of Virtual Earth grants will receive a total of $300,000. Microsoft issued an RFP last year for projects that explore Virtual Earth and Trustworthy Computing. 23 grants were announced today with 8 focussing on moving VE forward. C|net provides details and here’s the release.

The RFP asked for

university research in areas relevant to digital geography including spatio-temporal databases, routing, computer vision, ontologies, map user interfaces and visualization. Virtual Earth is Microsoft’s mapping and local search technology. The eight winners of the Virtual Earth RFP will conduct basic research in digital geographics that is expected to advance the state of the art.

Virtual Earth recipients include these folks. (The only I know is David Mark.):

• Maneesh Agrawala, University of California, Berkeley (United States)
• Frank Dellaert, Georgia Institute of Technology (United States)
• Dieter Fox, University of Washington (United States)
• David Mark, University of Buffalo (United States)
• P.J. Narayanan, Indian Institute of Information Technology-Hyderabad (India)
• Hanan Samet, University of Maryland (United States)
• Shashi Shekhar, University of Minnesota (United States)
• Cyrus Shahabi, University of Southern California (United States)


by Adena Schutzberg on 02/16 at 01:31 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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