Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Wikipedia Mobile Apps Switch To OpenStreetMap

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the location-aware dept.

Google 166

Techdirt reports that the latest versions of Wikipedia's mobile apps have switched to OpenStreetMap from Google Maps. Says Techdirt's commentary: "One wonders how Google didn't see this coming — or if they did, what exactly their strategy is here. OpenStreetMap is gaining a lot of momentum, and in some areas even features much better data. The real lesson here is that there's never an incumbent that isn't at risk of being unseated, no matter how widespread the adoption of their product or service—especially if they make an anti-customer decision like Google when it put a price tag on Maps. The situation also points to the long-term strength of open solutions: while a crowdsourced system like OpenStreetMap never could have put together a global mapping product as quickly as Google did, over time it has become a serious competitor in terms of both quality and convenience."

cancel ×

166 comments

Danger Google (5, Interesting)

GeneralTurgidson (2464452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612279)

If this and DuckDuckGo start gaining momentum google may find itself in Altavista's shoes.

Re:Danger Google (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612323)

Don't worry, Google can always threaten to publish our e-mails and surfing habits if we try to move away from their products.

Re:Danger Google (1, Insightful)

tbird81 (946205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614559)

Don't worry, Google can always threaten to publish our e-mails and surfing habits if we try to move away from their products.

What?! No they can't!! How was this modded insightful?

This place is full of pessimistic, pathologically cynical losers if they think it's that's true.

Re:Danger Google (4, Informative)

lastx33 (2097770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612391)

If this and DuckDuckGo start gaining momentum google may find itself in Altavista's shoes.

I agree. Have already switched to DuckDuckGo and it's a breath of fresh air to miss out on the ads and not worry about being tracked. I have contributed to OpenStreetMap and have seen the content on it it grow over the last couple of years at a terrific rate. It has the potential to be an absolute goldmine of information as more people contribute gps tracks and local points of interest.

Re:Danger Google (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612681)

Have already switched to DuckDuckGo and it's a breath of fresh air to miss out on the ads

Err, apart from the ads [duckduckgo.com] that DDG serves?

Re:Danger Google (1)

sildur (1383455) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613845)

You can disable [duckduckgo.com] the ads.

Re:Danger Google (4, Insightful)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614079)

Which will last until duckduckgo starts getting more traffic than is being paid for by the ad's, and suddenly, duckduckgo becomes the next google, where the ads are compulsory. As much as we hate it, we have to realize, the ads pay for these fantastic magical services, so that you don't have to fork over 5$ or 10$ or 15$ a month to use them. Nothing is free. Ever.

Re:Danger Google (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612457)

Except nobody besides spergs with a chip on their shoulder will ever use DuckDuckGo.

Re:Danger Google (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612545)

Honky please.

I'm sure Google is shaking in its shoes over yet another two open source projects doomed to failure. With rare exception, open source projects end up half assed, 90% feature complete, and skip implementation of anything difficult. The "it's good enough" approach.

Please, show me an open source project that truly rivals Gmail. Do it. One that implements ALL of the features. Including collaborative antispam, Ajax, contacts, archiving. Come on.

And show me how DuckDuckGo's algorithms match Google's. Oh and where's the autocomplete?

Mod me down, you'll feel better.

Re:Danger Google (5, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612745)

With rare exception, software projects end up half assed, 90% feature complete, and skip implementation of anything difficult. The "it's good enough" approach.

There. Fixed thad for you.

Re:Danger Google (4, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613247)

With rare exception, projects end up half assed, 90% feature complete, and skip implementation of anything difficult. The "it's good enough" approach.

Fixed again. cf. Sturgeon's law [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Danger Google (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39614683)

Stop fixing it... it's already good enough.

Re:Danger Google (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614903)

No you bold faced the wrong word. It should be a bold blank space in place of "software"....seems you skipped a difficult implementation...

Re:Danger Google (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612755)

Please, show me an open source project that truly rivals Gmail. Do it. One that implements ALL of the features. Including collaborative antispam, Ajax, contacts, archiving. Come on.

Do one thing, do it well. If you do things the UNIX way, you can easily beat the features and convenience of Gmail.

And show me how DuckDuckGo's algorithms match Google's. Oh and where's the autocomplete?

Google's results are crappy these days. And I don't need help typing, thanks.

Re:Danger Google (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613003)

Do one thing, do it well. If you do things the UNIX way, you can easily beat the features and convenience of Gmail.

If you're only doing one thing, you get one feature, and no conjunction. The other features and any convenience will have to be done by separate projects that the user can pipe together if they want.

Re:Danger Google (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613035)

To further elaborate, the only reason I'm not still using (al)pine is because of enigmail for thunderbird. Now that no one I know uses pgp/gpg anymore, I may go back to pine, encrypting stuff manually when absolutely needed. Sometimes it's nice to have programs that do more than one thing, even if they do them half-arsed.

Which collection? (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613027)

If you do things the UNIX way, you can easily beat the features and convenience of Gmail.

Good point. But if each domain's administrator has to research and cobble together tools from disparate sources and then write his own glue code, that's a strike against convenience. So what collection of UNIX-way tools do you recommend that "easily beat[s] the features and convenience of Gmail"? Say I'm running Debian or Ubuntu on a server that I administer; what all should I apt-get install? Furthermore, one still needs a server on which to run this collection of tools, and Gmail on a domain is free of charge for up to 50 users.

Re:Which collection? (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614287)

Cubemail, Squirelmail, etc all have Ajax and contact.
Archiving is as simple as "move to archives/" to match google's
for collaborative anti-spam (and I don't even think google's IS collaborative) you can use spam-assasin on the server, the client (thunderbird, etc), or anywhere else along the line
for searching there is thunderbird's search or notmuch search (both of which I have used and are VERY powerful).
for the server itself you can go with dovecot or any number of OSS mail servers.

Bonus: many e-mail clients support enigmail or simliar, gmail still relies on unsupported browser plugins for that!

The nice thing about e-mail is that there is actually very little "glue code" required between the modules at all.

Re:Danger Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39613073)

Interestingly I turn autocomplete off with Google, it's an irritation at best, and slow if using a low powered device.

Re:Danger Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39613187)

I find roundcube to be at least on par. something is missing, but the same thing can be said the other way around.

Re:Danger Google (1)

webnut77 (1326189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613339)

Roundcube is good as well as Hastymail.

Re:Danger Google (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613683)

Of all things, autocomplete was the one that you missed most? Really? I mean, really?
I would understand it if you said that DuckDuckGo lacks e.g. an (own) image searching feature of searching features in general, but stuff like autocomplete are mostly fluff if you ask me. And DuckDuckGo has its own neat ideas implemented in its own algorithms. I won't argue that DuckDuckGo is better than Google (because it isn't), but its nice to have some competition around. And, no, Bing does not count (because it sucks).

And you are mixing up the Gmail-service with the Gmail-client. You can set POP and IMAP for your Google account and view your emails in your favorite open-source email client (like Thunderbird). For obvious reasons, there can be no open-source alternative of the Gmail-service, but you can find a few for the Gmail-client. And having ALL the features is mostly a sign of bloat, rather than something good. Give me an intuitive, slick, fast interface that can be viewed comfortably in various operating systems as well as screen formats and sizes and I will immediately accept loosing half of the features.

Re:Danger Google (5, Informative)

TeXMaster (593524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612629)

I would like to use DDG too, but the only thing it has which is useful (at least as of now) is the zero-click info-box. The actual search results are quite horrible compared to what Google provides (probably because DDG relies essentially on Bing, which is having huge problems keeping their database in good shape).

Re:Danger Google (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612635)

does DuckDuckGo even have a sustainable and scalable business model? I think not.....it's a flash in the pan that will soon be gone

Re:Danger Google (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613345)

That's my question. Google is a devil we know. I don't get DuckDuckGo. How are they supposed to stick around?

Re:Danger Google (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613089)

If this and DuckDuckGo start gaining momentum google may find itself in Altavista's shoes.

Eh... OpenStreetMap is good for just that: street maps. It's got nothing on Google's other mapping features. Hell, it doesn't even show the lake where my cabin is at, just the streets. Google Maps offers detailed satellite and terrain imagery, for one thing.

Re:Danger Google (1, Interesting)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613209)

I'm not so sure its even great at that.

For instance, when I open the map to my local region near Toronto, Toronto does not appear. Vaughan and Brampton, suburbs, do. Now admittedly, there are many "cities" in the area of Toronto, so one might suspect this has something to do with Z-layering or such.

But, no, that does not appear to be a problem.

At the same zoom level, far away in northern Ontario, Haileybury appears. This is a town of a few thousand people. The cites of Sudbury, about 100,000, and North Bay, about 50,000, do not appear at all. Even stranger, when one zooms in on Sudbury (you can see the nest of roads around it on the map), it *never* appears.

If one searches for the city, the hits are places in the UK and USA. If one adds "canada" to the search terms, you get lots of streets and such.

One will not find the city until you select *Greater Sudbury*, the official legal name of the area. Clicking this scrolls to the middle of the town and places an arrow.

This really isn't useful.

Re:Danger Google (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613545)

If this and DuckDuckGo start gaining momentum google may find itself in Altavista's shoes.

Eh... OpenStreetMap is good for just that: street maps. It's got nothing on Google's other mapping features. Hell, it doesn't even show the lake where my cabin is at, just the streets. Google Maps offers detailed satellite and terrain imagery, for one thing.

Exactly. Google Maps even has the side roads and the dirt trail that my house is on, visible both in streetmap and in satellite views.

At present, OpenStreetMap barely even shows the lake as a splotch of blue, and south of the nearby town proper it only shows the motorway. It indicates nothing but blank forest for many kilometers of exurb, where houses are typically every 50-100 meters along every road and dirt track (and there are a lot of side roads and dirt tracks). Some day, OpenStreetMap may even show the main roads a few kilometers from near my house. In fact, around here OpenStreetMap covers fewer roads than even Google Street View.

Re:Danger Google (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614119)

And, to add creepy insult to injury, it shows every miserable two track goat path and jeep road on every ranch in west texas. right up to my front door. This is why we get those people on the news who get lost in the ass end of Utah or something, and spend a week slowly freezing to death in the mountains because they where blindly following roads they saw 'on the internets'

Re:Danger Google (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614371)

The motorway junction near me was upgraded about 2 years ago. Openstreetmaps shows the new upgraded junction, Google maps does not.

Re:Danger Google (1)

joelsherrill (132624) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614947)

Have you taken the time to report this to Google? They are generally responsive to fixing things. I have reported problems covering pronunciation issues, new roads, interchange rebuilds, and misplaced pins. They always get fixed within about a month.

Re:Danger Google (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614981)

So add the lake at your cabin (should be tagged natural=water; name=); add your cabin (should be tagged building=cabin; name=; addr:streetname=; addr:housenumber=); tag the paths around it (should be tagged as highway=path or highway=footway, depending on how formal they are); tag the tracks around it (should be tagged as highway=track); add parking near by it (should be tagged amenity=parking and possibly access=private); tag the forest (should be tagged landuse=forest) surrounding the lake; ...

All these things, bar the lake are things that google will almost certainly never have on their map, and this is precicely why OSM is better than google – because it's not just for streets – it's for any geographical feature you can think of. This is why OSM doesn't need sat imagery – because if there's some useful information in the sat imagery, then it should be in the map data. This is where OSM has a huge advantage over sat data – because when a path disappears into the trees, OSM renders it as a path, and you know where it goes, unlike on the sat image.

Re:Danger Google (1)

RKBA (622932) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613219)

Try ixquick [ixquick.com] . I think you'll like it much better than DuckDuckGo. Also startpage [startpage.com] is pretty good and uses Google to return results.

Who pays for the tile servers? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612289)

Acquiring the data isn't the only cost. Serving tiles to millions of clients each day can't be cheap. Who pays for that, if there aren't any ads and the service is free to use?

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (5, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612333)

http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tile_usage_policy [openstreetmap.org]

(if you make an app you should mirror the stuff to your own servers.. there's couple of links to services providing tiles based on osm data there)

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612823)

Their own wiki page is slashdotted and whatever image that was to the right has been blocked.

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39613201)

Their own wiki page is slashdotted and whatever image that was to the right has been blocked.

If you bothered to read the text under the "blocked image" you would see that it's an example of what you get if your app overuse the community-servers. It's supposed to be like that.

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (1)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612357)

Eventually I'll just replicate the entire database on my N terabyte USB key. Really, this one isn't a problem.

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612837)

Eventually I'll just replicate the entire database on my N terabyte USB key. Really, this one isn't a problem.

So you think, but the tile data might grow exponentially as man expands to the stars. Once we've crowdsource-mapped the Sol dyson sphere, you'll still need to serve titles from a server until you'll be able to replicate the entire database on your N exabyte USB key.

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (2)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614311)

I'm fairly certain that our mapping rate has platoed and will increase at a logarithmic rate. The only exception would be if detail became increased (topo, satelite, etc). But as for roads/lake/borders, those are about as precise as anyone would need already (we just have some missing pieces so far).

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612409)

Actually, one of the main reasons that I use an OSM app on my phone instead of the Google Maps one (aside from the fact I don't need a corporate stalker) is that it isn't serving tiles to me. I just grab the data once and store it on my phone. That means I can use the maps with my phone's GPS when I'm out of signal range (or somewhere with only GPRS signals, where using Google Maps is a bit painful) or when I'm in a different country and the data roaming charges would make it stupidly expensive.

The OSM data is licensed in a way that allows redistribution and the project actively encourages people to do this. Clients are allowed to aggressively cache or mirror the data, something which Google or Bing maps do not allow.

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (3, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612599)

What app do you use and what is your work flow? It's been about a year since I've looked into it but it just wasn't a simple. "Do This This and This". I'm going to be traveling to Germany in a few weeks and although my droid will be a useless phone (CDMA) I'd love to take it as a GPS/portable computing device.

Thanks.

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612621)

One thing to check on: it seems that a lot of the AGPS (Assisted GPS) devices in phones these days won't work at all if they don't get a signal from the network. There were some interesting reports from folks in a few areas where their cellular networks went down for a day or two and GPS completely stopped working. So check to see if yours is one that will even work if it has no CDMA signal.

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612733)

I use OSMAnd. With the free version I need to grab the map files manually, although the paid one will download them from in-app. I currently have maps for northern France, Belgium, and the UK on my SD card, taking up a bit over 1GB.

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614917)

In my experience Osmand is slow as molasses, and crash-prone (and I've got the paid version).

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612967)

I use Locus. Paid version of Locus is awesome, although the sheer number of features makes it a little complicated for non-techies.

Also, make sure you download the AGPS data before you leave (and periodically during your trip). You can download the free version of "GPS Status" to help you do this. Otherwise you'll have trouble getting a GPS fix abroad.

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614925)

One option is a free maps app called Locus. I used this last time I was in Europe. Used Locus to browse to the places I was going, selected the area of interest and downloaded the maps to my phone, typically the city centre in high detail and the wider city in a lower zoom level. I've done the same thing going out into the bush and onto remote islands.

Locus gives you a choice of a variety of maps providers and with a little hack you can use it with Google maps too, though OSM does a wonderful job.

I also tagged interesting landmarks like train stations, hostels and recommended places to visit before I went. When I got to Europe all I needed to do was keep the phone charged.

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612619)

You can cache maps using Google Maps on Android devices. I've cached the whole area around where I live and can use GPS with it without any Internet connection.

To cache a map area click somewhere on the map, then click the little arrow on the right that shows more detail, then at the bottom you should see a button labelled "pre-cache map data".

However, the OSM maps are far far better in my area though, which is reason enough to use them over Google Maps.

Re:Who pays for the tile servers? (2)

Espectr0 (577637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612895)

You know you can use google maps in offline mode by caching the maps right? Just enable the pre-cache area plugin in labs, tap and hold on any spot, click on the balloon tip and choose pre-cache.

it's not just maps (3, Insightful)

azery (865903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612315)

The openstreetmap project does provide a fantastic result, but for me it is lacking satellite imaging (as google does) or satellite imaging and aerial pictures (as bing/microsoft does) Having the images can be very handy... I see very often people who need to determine the distance between two points and for that, the images are easier than the maps.

Re:it's not just maps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612339)

Google/bing/mapquest/etc.... Have that advantage. There have been 'open' maps for a long time (ie the tiger database). That is only one small part of maps though. There is a bunch of other cool things that can be done with them. That is where google/ms have a serious advantage over the free guys. They can hire a guy to drive thru the slums of NY and get a pic of everything.

Try open.mapquest.com (4, Interesting)

gQuigs (913879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612537)

Give http://open.mapquest.com/ [mapquest.com] a try. It uses OpenStreetMap data while including many mapquest features, including satellite imagery.

Re:it's not just maps (1)

Paul Slocum (598127) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613121)

And directions. Pretty much all I ever use maps for is driving and subway directions.

I can't believe it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612319)

How come? Wikipedia was Google's whore for years!

Google didn't see it coming? (4, Insightful)

iampiti (1059688) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612327)

Well I guess Google carefully considered pros and cons before charging for maps and if they didn't is their problem.
The summary (yes, I didn't RTFA) seems to imply that the right or normal thing would be that google dominated the maps landscape. Well, obviously they have to compete with everyone else and if a decision makes them lose clients it's their problem. Maybe that loss was calculated and they calculated they'd get more benefits in the long run if they get rid of non-paying customers.

Re:Google didn't see it coming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612639)

Yes. Google doesn't care if it's not #1 in maps-in-other-applications. Google cares if it makes money. They make money with their maps by drawing people into Google services in general, and they make money by serving up ads with their maps, so they give them away for free in Google-branded and Google-operated services, but a third-party app using their stuff brings them nothing.

Superior for trails (5, Interesting)

dargaud (518470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612329)

In my country there are very good 1:25000 maps, but the trails in the wooded areas can be off by hundreds of meters because they we mapped before the time of the GPSs and there's no way to use a theodolite acurately on a forest trail. Come the GPS: I take a track, clean it up a bit, upload it to OSM and the trail is now a lot more accurate than the best maps available...

Re:Superior for trails (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612449)

Superior for a lot of things. I'm moving to Cambridge soon, and the university accommodation office uses both Bing and Google maps for their web site (no idea why - it seems quite random which one you get). Neither of them even labels all of the colleges, let along the university buildings. In contrast, OSM labels all of the colleges, most of the university buildings, and even a lot of shops, pubs, and restaurants are there by name.

When I visited a friend in Paris, Google Maps had the street he lived on labelled, but OSM had the building numbers marked as well.

That said, there are a few places where it is less good. For example, it doesn't have integrated route finding, but there are third-party route finders using the same data. If you want to create a map with one marker on it and send it as a link to someone, you can do it via the OSM web interface, but the UI is pretty horrible. If you want multiple tags, then you need to host your own OpenLayers thing and write some JavaScript. The search feature in OSM is pretty poor as well. It doesn't factor distance into account (although the one on the OSM client on my phone does), so if I search for a street name while looking at a city in the UK, I often have to scroll past a dozen streets in random US cities with the same name before I find the right one.

Re:Superior for trails (1)

V-similitude (2186590) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613397)

That said, there are a few places where it is less good. For example, it doesn't have integrated route finding... The search feature in OSM is pretty poor as well.

Well. I was getting mildly interested in OSM, until you mentioned these things. Searching and route-finding is 90% of what I use maps for... Too bad. Well, there's also the fact that as it gets more use it'll get worse too (the instance of Google not covering Sarajevo, for instance, seemed to be a pretty clear case of the country demanding they don't cover them, whereas OSM has fallen through the cracks . . . for now).

This is a common problem of unfunded community-driven (not to be confused with open-source) projects. They work great for a relatively small number of users, but as soon as they get anywhere near mainstream, they start falling apart. Scaling fail.

anti-customer decision? (5, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612337)

Last time I checked, maps is still free for people to use, they're just charging for commercial use, but that makes perfect sense. If you're a business, I can't see why you'd be complaining about having to pay a little something that makes it easier for your customers to find you. Nobody is forcing you to use Maps. Go ahead and switch if the expense is too much for you. As TFS states, there are other alternatives.

Hooray for the free market!

Re:anti-customer decision? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612489)

Last time I checked, maps is still free for people to use, they're just charging for commercial use, but that makes perfect sense. If you're a business, I can't see why you'd be complaining about having to pay a little something that makes it easier for your customers to find you.

Well, you have to pay 10k dollars annually, even if you just want to use it for your intranet that has three users.

Re:anti-customer decision? (3, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612601)

Well, I suppose that small business will move on to one of those cheap or free alternatives, won't they?

Google Maps is obviously more than just a map, and the fact that commercial users are so pissed off about the fact that it costs money now proves that there is substantial value in integrating Google Maps, value that they were getting gratis, otherwise they would just say "fuck it" and move on to something else without all the bitching.

It's not like this is the first time that a commercial user has had to pay for something a private user got for free. Google's a business, too, and I'm sure that it costs them a fortune to maintain and update Maps. Maybe not $10,000 per year, per commercial license, but then again, there's a story right here on Slashdot [slashdot.org] about how Apple makes $575 per handset sold to Google's $2, and there are plenty of people that see no issue with that, so I don't understand the complaining here.

Well, unless it's another one of those "Apple deserves to make money hand over fist, but no one else!!" opinions, but I don't bother arguing with those people because they're retarded.

Re:anti-customer decision? (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612987)

Google Maps is obviously more than just a map, and the fact that commercial users are so pissed off about the fact that it costs money now proves that there is substantial value in integrating Google Maps, value that they were getting gratis, otherwise they would just say "fuck it" and move on to something else without all the bitching.

The reason businesses are complaining is sunk cost. They spend money developing things using the Google Maps APIs, believing that they were free, and now they're not. Developing with OpenLayers is about as easy and confers the same advantages without needing a licensing cost, although if you're serving a lot of clients then you're expected to serve the tiles yourself, but the software is all free, it's just hardware and bandwidth costs. If Google Maps had been this expensive from the start, then it would not have been a problem - companies would have just not developed things based on it in the first place.

Re:anti-customer decision? (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613183)

The reason businesses are complaining is sunk cost. They spend money developing things using the Google Maps APIs, believing that they were free, and now they're not.

Isn't that always a risk when choosing to utilize and integrate a free service into your business, though? I admit, I don't own a business, but it seems like something that would be a factor in deciding what software I would use.

I suppose I can't fault commercial users for assuming the Maps API would be free to use forever and being irritated about the fact that they now have to decide whether to pay them or move to an alternative, but I can't fault Google for doing this any more than I can legitimately fault any other business. News organizations (especially print) have been slamming paywalls down, as well. People adapt.

Re:anti-customer decision? (1)

Alex Zepeda (10955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613411)

Say what? Google Maps has always had the scepter of fees for commercial use. The previous(?) standard was that if your site was not publicly accessible you'd have to buy an annual license. I thought that ToS already indicated high traffic sites would potentially be required to pay... guess not. If you are/were designing a business around a commercial product like Google Maps and believed it is/was free, you are/were doing it wrong.

In a previous life I had to evaluate potential alternatives to Google Maps for desktop (browser) use. ESRI stuff was unbelievably archaic, the browser widget was horrid, and the pricing was astronomical. MapQuest had old data for the metro areas we needed, and Bing was pretty forgettable. The OSM stuff is pretty slick, and if you're going to setup a tile server you've got infinite customization available. Google provided a turnkey product with a fairly stable API.

In the Android arena, however, it's been my experience that the Google Maps was exceedingly frustrating with a limited feature set compared to something like OSM.

Re:anti-customer decision? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612535)

I believe you've mistaken who Google's customer actually is. Hint: it's not you or me.

Re:anti-customer decision? (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612655)

Oh, I know exactly who Google's "customers" are, and it's obviously not the small business owners complaining about having to pay for commercial uses of Google's Maps API, is it?

Re:anti-customer decision? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612773)

My company is switching. Last year the HTTPS feature on Google Maps cost us $8,000. (HTTP is free, they have always charged for HTTPS.) Our yearly renewal comes up in a couple months, and Google wants $17,500 for the same thing. It would be worth that *IF* there were no alternatives, but there are alternatives! It is a couple days of coding for us to switch, well worth it.

I'm baffled by what Google is doing here. They are the company most known for giving away stuff for free to gain market share - think Gmail, Chrome, Google Docs, their search on their homepage, etc. It might be as simple as one or two terribly dumb marketing managers inside Google that will be fired soon and everything will return to "normal" (Google making rational business decisions).

Re:anti-customer decision? (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612891)

They are the company most known for giving away stuff for free to gain market share

Perhaps now they feel they've captured a significant enough portion of the market and decided to start capitalizing on it? That would be my (admittedly uninformed) guess. I can't even tell you the last time I got a link or saw an embedded map that was of the Yahoo or Bing variety.

I mean, it was great while it lasted, but things change; there wouldn't be nearly as many people angry about this if it wasn't beneficial to them to be using it in the first place, and Google wants a cut now that everybody and their sister uses Maps (not to mention almost every smart phone out there, in the US anyway). It may reek of the drug dealer giving the first hit for free, I won't deny that, but the concept of giving a service away for free or greatly reduced price is nothing new. Google didn't invent this concept, and if we're going to take issue with them for it, then I'd suppose we'd better take issue with pretty much every business on the planet...

Re:anti-customer decision? (1)

thebjorn (530874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613555)

Perhaps now they feel they've captured a significant enough portion of the market and decided to start capitalizing on it? That would be my (admittedly uninformed) guess[...]

Google Maps API is still free to use as long as you don't charge for access to your website: https://developers.google.com/maps/licensing [google.com]

How can a monopoly be broken? (0)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612415)

This can't be true. Once a monopoly gets established it's grip cannot be broken by market forces. We need government to break up monopolies.

Re:How can a monopoly be broken? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612451)

Google doesn't have a monopoly on search/mail etc because it's delivered through a standard web browser.

If you needed to install Chrome to get the most out of their search engine and they had proprietary protocols in place to keep it so, that would be time to raise red flags.

Re:How can a monopoly be broken? (3, Informative)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612453)

Google doesn't really own any natural monopolies. Android has a big network-effect advantage, as does Google+ (though the latter has very low market share).

The areas where government really has to step in are things like telecoms (especially when monopoly status is codified in law), and situations where somebody has gotten a huge majority where a network effect matters.

Disruptive innovation always shakes thing sup (1)

DaveyJJ (1198633) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612439)

Once again, OpenStreetMap highlights that Clayton Christensen's idea's about how low-end disruptive innovation works seem to hold true. (I, too, have also used Duck Duck Go for almost a year now.)

Re:Disruptive innovation always shakes thing sup (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614065)

dream on, mostly that stuff does NOT work, the high end / big corporations set the agenda and drive technology, economy, consumption, etc.

its fast.... for now (1)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612467)

lets see how their map server handles a good old fashioned Slashdotting !

Project Glass (4, Interesting)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612525)

This might be a little "tinfoil hat", and I doubt very much if it is the main reason why google started charging - but I just wonder if longer term thoughts like project glass might factor into their decision.

Products like Glass are basically just one big world of maps - mapping, satellite, traffic, public transport. Giving that away completely free no-strings-attached forever would just allow others to make products without the overhead that google have to shoulder alone. Something like glass is a long way off, but perhaps there may be a small degree of laying down the norms early on.

For basic mapping openstreetmap is completely fine, but if all of the finer granularity (streetview, satellite, traffic data) is required then that costs a lot of money to acquire/maintain - and fair enough if google want to start asking those that use it to contribute.

Perhaps their strategy is... (2)

Snaller (147050) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612571)

"... it costs us a fortune to do this shit, someone better start paying."

??

directions? (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612731)

I like the concept of openstreetmap, I have an account, and I've contributed a couple of edits for the area where I live. However, what really seems to be missing is a decent way of getting directions. The only service for this that I know of based on OSM is yournavigation.org, and the quality of its results is simply unusable.

As an example, try the following in both yournavigation.org and google maps:

from: 2233 west loma alta drive, fullerton, ca, usa

to: north mount baldy road, san bernardino county, california, usa

Google maps does it in 12 steps, and the directions are totally intelligible. Yournavigation breaks it down into 30 steps, many of which are totally unintelligible.

There is also a usability barrier, because OSM's user interface doesn't provide any hint of how to get to a navigation site such as yournavigation.org.

There are various other usability issues with OSM. For example, it took me a really long time to figure out why it couldn't locate my house's address. The reason was that my street is officially "west loma alta dr," and I had to edit the map in order to tell it that an alternate name was "loma alta dr." The search engine for google maps was smart enough that it just matched without the "west." (There isn't any "east loma alta drive.")

Re:directions? (1)

ulski (1173329) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613025)

if you want to you could try out TomToms online map. The map itself looks a bit odd ( I think it might be the colors or the fonts used) but the one feature that I like, is the traffic reports. I did a test search for you. The link is here: http://routes.tomtom.com/route/2233%2520Loma%2520Alta%2520Dr%252C%2520Fullerton%252C%2520CA%252C%2520US%254033.889072%252C-117.96456%2540-1/Mount%2520Baldy%2520Rd%252C%2520Valyermo%252C%2520CA%252C%2520US%254034.18236%252C-117.67789%2540-1/?leave=now&traffic=true&center=34.032343635396%2C-117.8938025&zoom=8&map=basic [tomtom.com] I'm not sure if I found the streets you mentioned.

Re:directions? (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613979)

Aha -- yes, that is much, much better than yournavigation.org. Thanks!

Re:directions? (1)

ulski (1173329) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614257)

Glad I could help. When you click the reverse button to calculate the route for the trip back, you should notice how the route may change a lot. I guess this is due to the fact that queues build up in one direction only, due to rush hour or road work

Personally (5, Insightful)

LiroXIV (2362610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612775)

I think this is more of an ideological move. Google Maps is not free content like Wikipedia itself. OpenStreetMap however, shares many of the same values as Wikipedia itself; such as its use of an environment that encourages contribution by others, the use of licensing that encourages the sharing and rebuilding of content instead of forbidding it, and so on.

Ideologically motivated switch (2)

Tordanik (1771960) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613445)

I think this is more of an ideological move. Google Maps is not free content like Wikipedia itself.

You are probably right about this. Unlike the previous examples of major Google Maps users switching to OpenStreetMap that were triggered by Google's pricing changes, this particular case is primarily based on the compatible ideals of OSM and Wikipedia. On the Wikipedia blog post announcing OSM support for the app, they even explicitly state: "This closely aligns with our goal of making knowledge available in a free and open manner to everyone. This also means we no longer have to use proprietary Google APIs in our code, which helps it run on the millions of cheap Android handsets that are purely open source and do not have the proprietary Google applications."

It's not just a recent development either. Wikipedia has been using OpenStreetMap on some of its websites for years - the German and French editions as well as several smaller languages have built-in OSM maps in each article with a coordinate (e.g. see the documentation for the feature in the German Wikipedia here [wikipedia.org] ). There are also several projects [openstreetmap.org] for linking and collaboration between the two projects.

Google can't win today... (3, Insightful)

CaptainLard (1902452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39612795)

Not 3 stories ago we get a post about how android is not a good buisiness model because apple is making 250x as much on every i-device sold as google does on every android device (http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/12/04/08/0546247/google-earns-2-per-handset-apple-575). Perhaps suggesting that its better for business to have the walled garden approach. Now there's this story about how google is losing out because a competitor is more open. Based on that it seems google is toast because they are too open while also not open enough. Seems rough to be getting attacked from all sides but then again, consistent $billions in profit probably soften the blow.

when Google drives your car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39613735)

for you it may be in a better position to recoup the map making expense.

Re:Google can't win today... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39614083)

> android is not a good buisiness model because apple is making 250x as much on every i-device sold as google does on every android device

I don't get this mentality.

"We made only a measly billion dollars this year, we can't even afford a new yacht for our CEO! It's over, over!"

"PC market didn't grow 200% last year, it's dying!"

Don't you find anything wrong with expectations of everyone getting billions in profits on every product and every market growing exponentially?

OpenStreetMap crippled in UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612841)

I love OpenStreetMap, but in the UK it verges on useless for creating free SatNav software. This is due to the crazy policy the British government has of making the postcode database (that's the Zip code database for you Americans) only available for a price. And the price is thousands of pounds. Navigating without the ability to find postcodes is very unpleasant.

Re:OpenStreetMap crippled in UK (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613401)

I love OpenStreetMap, but in the UK it verges on useless for creating free SatNav software. This is due to the crazy policy the British government has of making the postcode database (that's the Zip code database for you Americans) only available for a price. And the price is thousands of pounds. Navigating without the ability to find postcodes is very unpleasant.

Given that our (United States) Post Office is running a 9+ billion dollar annual deficit, I expect someone over here will be proposing they charge for zip code maps soon enough.

Google Privacy Sucks (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39612843)

That alone should be a reason for Wikimedia to give Google the boot.

Wikimedia works because it treats its patrons as readers instead of mindless consumers. One might compare it to the difference between a good library and a corporate chain book store.

One wonders how Google didn't see this coming (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613023)

easy, for every single good open source thing, you have to wade though a 40 mile wide pile of shit open source things.

People always act like there is something wrong with others for not seeing it before, but the reality of open source is that any drunk/child/failing student/general moron/company/or software genius can make it, and oh boy is there a fuckton of the stuff, with a fair majority of it being right up shit.

You cant see it coming cause its like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Re:One wonders how Google didn't see this coming (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613725)

easy, for every single good open source thing, you have to wade though a 40 mile wide pile of shit open source things.

And how is this different from closed-source software?

Google's 'take it or leave it' attitude (1)

Jerry Atrick (2461566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613189)

After several years wasting my time I finally gave up trying to get Google to correct the many errors on my local map. Businesses labeled anything from a street to a mile from their real location, roads names sometimes completely fictional and equally misplaced and copious scatterings of other errors. I live in a large city in England, no excuses there, just plain lack of care.

I'd like to believe this might push them to try harder, to actually solicit and act on feedback. The truth is Google seem incapable of finishing anything they offer the public and accuracy is something only needed for tracking advertising clicks. Given how often Maps has failed me seems like an ideal time to follow Wikipedia. Not running Maps on my phone is a bonus all by itself, with its autoloading instance at powerup and multiple services designed to restart each other if you try to unload the app.

ZGn4a (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39613233)

achievemEn7s that

Wikipedia depends on Google (0)

junge_m (410514) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613393)

I hope that the powers at Wikipedia knows what they are doing: The popularity and influence of Wikipedia is directly powered by its high Google rank. Without the referals from Google Wikipedia can fade into oblivion faster than its assent.

The Elephant in the Room (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39613491)

No one has mentioned yet that both Wikipedia and Open Street Maps are open content projects. Wikipedians sometimes contribute to OSM and vice versa. In all situations, wikipedia will always choose for the most open option available. (If there are multiple fully open options, it sometimes will choose all of them, Just Because They're There . )

No threat at all (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39613987)

I went there and it... does maps. Wow. Google maps does a lot more than just showing me a map. I do like that it is editable though when you find a mistake.

Make what you want of this... (1)

JackAxe (689361) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614047)

But Open Street Map's founder Steve Coast works for Microsoft. Both Microsoft and "Apple" are backing OSM. Both Bing and OSM share map data. So yeah, OSM is gaining lots of momentum, because Apple and MS want it to replace Google maps and have financially motivated it.

The way I see it -- note, that this is pure conjecture on my part -- is that this is not some ideological or heroic move on Wikipedia's part to support open source on their mobile app.

I see it as either a nudged move(as in an influential "donation") by two juggernauts that want Wikipedia to move away from their competition Google on the mobile front, because Google Maps is already dominant and Android is becoming a titan in the mobile space.

Or as for compatibility it just makes sense; MS and Apple don't want Google maps on their mobile devices -- just like they don't support any 3rd party plug-ins -- but they do want OSM and have said so with their wallets. By going this route, it will probably make it easier for Wikipedia to implement their app onto these closed off devices; as in MS and Apple will give them lots of support to do it.

Anyways, was this Slashdot article just a coincidence, or is it part of some strategic FUD attack against Google, when considering the prior article below this one about them... Don't answer that, I've already assumed the answer.

Please use Waze everyone... (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614317)

Waze is fantastic, it's based on Open Street Maps, it provides turn by turn directions, but even better than that it lets you share data like road hazards, police locations, traffic perils, and so on.

You can get it for iOS, Android and I think even Blackberry at the moment. Probably even WP7.

One of the nicer things is that you can use it as a tool to record new roads it does not know about yet, and submit them - a regional overseer will review any additions/corrections and thus everyone gets better data.

The directions can be a little wonky sometimes but are generally roughly reliable.

Open Street Maps is like most open projects (1)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 2 years ago | (#39614367)

Open Street Maps is like most open projects, incomplete.

And when you have a program and it's incomplete, that's one
thing. But an incomplete map is stupid. Because it's useless.

Shouldn't they color code areas that have 'no data'? Like my
neighborhood that's been here since 2003.

-AI

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...