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Maps are everywhere. Want to know the location of the nearest cat groomer? Done. Want to avoid that overturned beer truck? Easy –when you account for traffic. And how much do these miraculous services cost? Zero. That’s right, zero. Location is so critical to companies such as Google that mapping tools are provided for free. Maps enable geo-targeted advertising and the identification of place specific services, generating value for customers and revenue for the big mapping players.
However, there are actually very few high-quality and comprehensive providers of geographic data. Google develops its own maps, and I have sometimes guiltily enjoyed seeing the terror in the eyes of vehicle fleet managers when I mention to them that Google maps can be publicly edited. Apple was lambasted for their initial efforts at mapping, but they have come a long way since those early and embarrassing days (anyone remember the dangerously incorrect address for Washington, DC’s Dulles Airport?) The other major players are TomTom and HERE. On the heels of the recent purchase of NOKIA’s HERE division by a consortium of German car makers, TomTom, a Dutch company, is releasing products to support automated driving. HERE has established itself as the dominant geographic data provider, producing the geo-data used by Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and our Maptitude mapping software product suite.