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SpatialTau - Halfpenny For Your Thoughts

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This week I blogged about the new Uber/Google Maps agreement that was just signed.
For as much money Uber has invested in mapping, they don’t believe their technology is reliable enough to roll out to the public. That is mapping services in a nutshell, when your business is dependent on the best routing and addressing, those businesses pick Google every time. All that time and effort to build a mapping platform and they still pay another company tens of millions of dollars.
As Brian Timoney says, it is a no brainer:
Brian Timoney
Thought 1: Throw a half penny to Google per trip and focus your spatial efforts on the algorithmic matching of drivers & riders is the easiest of no-brainers.

Thought 2: mapping for the consumer seems to be very difficult way to make money

(2/2) ht @jamesmfee
All you need is one of these per trip.
All you need is one of these per trip.
He gets at the core of the issue, maps for consumers are such a commodity that it makes zero sense to compete. I mean take a look at apps on your phone right now. If you are on Android, almost all of them use Google Maps and on iOS it is probably 50/50 Google Maps/Apple Maps. You might see some Mapbox in there and maybe even some Bing Maps or other tools, but for maps in front of users, Apple and Google have won that war.
½ cent per trip, let that set in. Not paying for requests of maps or geocodes but paying only when you make money. I can open my Uber app and pan around all I want without costing Uber a dime (well I guess ½ a cent). Only when I complete my trip, does Uber have to send Google money. I looked in 2019 and I took over 100 Uber trips. Back of the napkin review shows the average cost was $30 per trip. So basically, Uber makes ~$3,000 off me and my travel and would have to pay Google $0.50, pocketing $2,999.50.
Therefore, you don’t see much competition in this space anymore. Google Maps is the de facto platform for mapping at this point and the only company that is close is Apple and they have no want or need beyond including Apple Maps in apps built in their platforms. This isn’t to say Mapbox, HERE, TomTom, Esri and all the rest don’t have a position in embedded or b2b solutions. It just means the time for any of them to reposition themselves as a Google Maps competitor is probably gone. Understanding though that market they are in can be very profitable.
Of course, everyone asks, what about OSM? We still see OSM being integrated into platforms from Apple to Facebook but as a standalone tool, it niche. Rolling your own is almost impossible as Apple Maps showed us in its nasty progression. If Apple can barely do it, how will new competitors.
Everyone always says, why roll your own infrastructure? Just pay Amazon or Microsoft. Why work your own machine learning tools when you can pay Amazon or Google? Why have your own mapping platform when you can just pay Google Maps.
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James Fee
James Fee @jamesmfee

Spatial, workflows and technology

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