Friday, 12 August 2016

A question of business models in webmap offerings

Eighteen months ago, Google quietly deprecated its Maps API, and ESRI offered and alternative with ArcGIS Earth, then Mapbox and Carto in quick succession: I blogged then Esri, Google and if the shoe fits... Part 1 and Part 2, mirrored on LinkedIn here and here, respectively. Safe Software, LINQ Ltd. and I basically saw it as the next phase in the battle for The Internet of Things (IoT), which has been gaining traction of late.

Did you know that the original title of the above was in fact Esri & Google: all may not be as it seems? Well that ties into the recent posts Massive online activity - all is not as it appears, Continued and Final around the spatial geo issues  Pokémon Go raised, wittingly or not... Contrast the Google deprecation that raised hardly a murmur, to the Pokémon Go phenomenon that's taken over the internet it seems, the geo sphere at least! The rub is what happens to geospatial data we share online, wittingly or not.

Far be it from me to deny the excitement this generated in geo circles from, say, Niall Conway's series, or Paul Synnott's IoT view, even the discussion on ESRI's GeoNet. In my posts early last year, I said something Pokémon Go addressed via crowd-sourcing of location data:
My comment ended with "there lies the battleground – immersive consumer environments – for which of course there must be a sound data and location base"... And as it happens Steve Grise just wrote here on "Data we need to construct information". He argues that for all the buzz Big Data creates, how much of it is locationally aware? Ouch! you say, why mention the B word, but AGI's Geo Big5 in London last year addressed its geospatial aspects I blogged on here.
I see the problem today succinctly is as follows:
Neither is Pokémon Go a mapping system heralding the future: yes it uses all that cool kit everyone has written about already; but no it's neither open data nor anything you can do work with. In Esri's Geonet was asked the question, why isn't buffering used ot help keep folks out of areas they're not welcome in (such as homes and cemeteries also written up elsewhere). That would presume access by geo-tools to do that, but it appears not to be the case right now.
Michael Gould tweeted so further comments on this topic

So we loop the loop here with Google Maps and Pokémon Go pushing the spatial agenda one way or another.  But both Google and Niantic have a different online business models than older geo-businesses such as Esri, or as newer geo-businesses such as MapBox and Carto. They based their revenue, respectively, on online traffic and adverts, on site licensing and maintenance, and on internet usage and traffic.

As my title says, it's a question of business models, posted above as a Ben Franklin as previously. Does a little perspective and background not help in sorting out the promises and potential for the future? The geospatial arena is progressing at a furious pace and in many directions, so as was said exactly a week ago in Rio:

Let the games begin! (source)