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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Well, folks, I hate to throw cold water on everyone’s party where street maps and satellite imagery are free through Google Maps, MSN Virtual Earth, etc. but I fear a backlash some day. Nothing is free, really. The current explosion of mapping applications through search engine stalwarts like Google, et. al. gives me pause. The street data from NAVTEQ and Tele Atlas wasn’t acquired at no cost; the satellite data from DigitalGlobe’s satellites and others wasn’t free; the mapping servers by Telcontar were not given to the search guys free of charge, and those nifty Pictometry visuals of buildings takes more than just someone with an Instamatic.

Now, we are led to believe that advertising will pay for all of this wonderful free stuff and it might, for a while. But eventually there must be some return to reality and the thought goes that advertising goes in cycles. Right now, internet advertising is increasingly taking away dollars from print publications (no problem here, especially from this publisher).

Today, the Wall Street Journal reports that AOL is switching some of its "paid" services to its "free" site in hopes of bolstering revenue through additional advertising. The article suggests that AOL will cannibalize some of its own revenue because members may feel like they can get most of their services for free now, such as email, news, etc.

Eventually, the chicken does come home to roost and I wonder just how long the gravy train will continue, if I can mix metaphors for a bit. Geospatial data such as street centerlines are expensive to acquire and maintain. If you buy an in-vehicle navigation system, you’ll pay $2000 or more. Want to buy a Garmin GPS for your car instead; it’s still $1000 or more. Go to Google to get a map…it’s free. Uh, wait a minute…it’s the same data. Am I just paying for the fact that no ads accompany the in-vehicle navigation system? Maybe, but sooner or later somebody is going to pay to get good data. Maybe that in-vehicle system will be free too because you’ll have to look at ads from Hilton or Marriott. Don’t laugh..it could happen…and soon.

But there is no bottomless pit for advertising spending. At the first sign of another economic downturn, the first thing to get cut is advertising dollars. Let’s see just how long "free" lasts then. It may be a "nickel a click" to get that map next time around.

     

by Joe Francica on 06/09 at 11:55 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The first known request from Google of a website using Google Maps in breach of the terms of service appeared this week. The Gmerge application, which knits together Google Maps tiles, was the target. It appears the developers complied by posting the request to their site. ItТs interesting to note that to date Google has been reticent to comment on such hacks. An article from the Associated Press, widely reprinted today, highlighting Google Map hacks noted that Уdeclined to comment through a spokesman.Ф

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/09 at 09:19 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

It’s time to be selfish about LBS, so forget leaving messages for friends in the ether. Instead, leave messages for yourself! A PhD student at The University of Minnesota has developed a system that will send either an SMS message or play a pre recorded call if the user gets within ╜ mile of the location where it was “left.” We all leave messages in time for ourselves via Palm Pilots or desktop calendars. Now, we can leave them in space. This is far more appealing to me than push advertising or even reading other people’s reviews in the ether. Why? It’s all about me! Via TheFeature.

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/09 at 07:14 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

MapQuest made an announcement about print expansion last week. This week an editorial in Investor’s Business Daily highlights some interesting facts on the company:

- The company “plans to offer a turn-by-turn direction service using GPS inside cell phones later this year. It has not said which carriers will offer the service.”

- Its $4/month service to get maps sent to their cell phones has about 200,000 users.

Ok, so maybe MapQuest is not out of the game yet…but it seems to be lagging behind.

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/09 at 07:12 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

SiliconValleyWatcher reports that Google is looking to tweak its latest data capture technology aimed at supporting local advertising. “Google plans to use trucks equipped with lasers and digital photographic equipment to create a realistic 3D online version of San Francisco, and eventually other major US cities.” The technology challenge is capturing the data in one pass, not two to pull out things/people that obscure the buildings and features.

The idea is that it’ll be better than the existing orthos and draped images of Keyhole. And, it’ll go up against A9’s front on pictures and I suppose the Pictometry imagery slated for MSN’s Virtual Earth. It seems to me there’s been an interest in this whole “realistic 3D city” stuff for some time. I recall Bentley putting together ModelCity Philadelphia in 1997. And, many video games have realistic 3D flythroughs. I suppose the difference is that there will be a formal consistent collection method and hopefully, timely updates.

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/09 at 07:10 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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