Tech Avengers Assemble
With their respective Maps apps, Google (GOOGL) and Apple (AAPL) have long enjoyed dominance in the digital map industry. But now the Overture Maps Foundation has arrived with a new approach to navigation it hopes to put on the map.
The Overture Maps Foundation is a joint venture formed by major tech giants Meta Platforms (META), Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN), and TomTom (TMOAY). By joining forces, this group aims to release data that will let companies build new navigation products without relying on Google or Apple.
The Overture Maps Foundation has already captured 59 million “points of interest” to fuel its own maps product. “Points of interest” are essentially anything people would want to find on a map — restaurants, landmarks, streets, regional borders, and more.
But the organization isn’t planning to keep these interests private. It plans to make the data openly available to other companies. In theory, this will help make life easier for businesses like DoorDash (DASH) or Uber (UBER) that are heavily reliant on map data.
Due to a lack of other options, these companies are essentially forced to use either Google or Apple Maps — and pay to do so. When selling their maps as a service, app makers typically charge a fee every time businesses want to access the underlying data.
Building Better Maps
The Overture Maps Foundation’s goal is to provide a baseline source for mapping data so other companies can leverage it to build their own products. As an open-source system, Overture won’t open much in the way of new revenue streams for the tech giants behind it. But it could help to keep money out of competitors’ hands.
The new system could also be crucial for emerging technologies, such as augmented reality and self-driving cars, which rely heavily on high-quality mapping software. On top of helping companies build personalized map products affordably — or even for free — Overture could drive the cost of existing services down by reducing reliance on Google and Apple.
The launch of the Overture Maps Foundation is a keen chess move. But while it might be a blow to those tech giants, competition tends to be a boon to consumers.
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