Location, Location, Location

Taxi operator Uber is proving that its not just about location, but the best possible location, as they are reportedly investing $500 million to build a better mapping system. Following Apple’s hasty decision to ditch google’s mapping in 2012,  Uber are intent on doing something similar, regarding Google’s product as being expensive, restrictive and of limited accuracy outside North America auber-map_3457218and Western Europe. This announcement by Uber is a logical extension of their acquisition of Microsoft’s data collection business in June last year.  Last year too they ‘poached’ Brian McClendon Google’s former head of mapping to lead their mapping initiative.  Uber are intending to use data captured by their own cars to help create the mapping.  So what does this all mean?  It does seem a bit daft to create yet another mapping product in addition to those produced by venerable national mapping agencies, Google, Microsoft, Navteq, TeleAtlas, Here, OpenStreetMap etc. etc., but owning the best data might be everything in a competitive world.  Comparing the likes of Ordnance Survey’s data in the UK with Google shows there is much room for improvement  in the ‘global’ products, but equally the copyright and cost of OS data continues to restrict its use in broader marketplaces.  The bottom line is more data must be a good thing, it builds our industry and increases employment.  Whether the Uber data is ever available outside that company, to whom, and at what cost, represent a number of unanswered questions.

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