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Microsoft quietly teams with Apple in backing OpenStreetMap

updated 07:35 pm EDT, Tue March 27, 2012

Microsoft fuels OpenStreetMap data

Some extra sleuthing has confirmed that OpenStreetMap is getting more support from major companies than Apple. Microsoft not only hired OpenStreetMap's founder Steve Coast as its main designer for Bing Mobile but has been in a two-way supply of content deal. Bing provides some map data for the project but also draws on OpenStreetMap to fill out its map content.

Both Apple and Microsoft share the same objectives. By supporting and using OpenStreetMap, they create a significant alternative to Google Maps, which has about 71 percent of online map views as of February. Either would want to reduce their dependency on a competitor and 'punish' Google for Android, either for Apple's belief that the OS is inherently copied or for Microsoft's view that Android for the past few years has usurped its place as the licensed mobile OS of choice.

Microsoft is in a better position to rely more on OpenStreetMap than Apple. While Apple doesn't have its own full-fledged map system and would lose important features like mass transit directions if it cut support early, Microsoft has been willing to take hundreds of millions of dollars in losses each quarter to build up its entire Bing search platform and offer a Google competitor.

As a service, OpenStreetMap has been popular for third-party GPS apps and even for some dedicated GPS hardware, since its map data is free and just requires credit. [via PCWorld]

by MacNN Staff



  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Google asked for this...

    by being such arseholes. And no, I am not British.

  1. global.philosopher

    Joined: Dec 1969



    My enemy's enemny is my friend.

    Google..once the impartial friendly sstallwart against MS has been making a lot of enemies of late. It will all catch up with them eventually.

    Facebook...Twitter..MS...Apple...Groupon...Amazon...Yahoo...Mozilla...etc, etc.

    The compeitors are all starting to stack up. Sometimes it is best sticking to what you do best and work with partners rather than take them all on.

    Now even Android OEM's see them as a frenemy.

  1. global.philosopher

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "Microsoft has been willing to take hundreds of millions of dollars in losses each quarter to build up its entire Bing search platform and offer a Google competitor"

    And people wondered what Apple could have been doing with its money rather than giving it back to shareholders. Steve Jobs would have been able to spend it in a more meaningful way. Looks like Tim Cook either lacks long term vision or the balls to stand up to shareholders who only want to use Apple to make money rather than create good products.

    I hope Apple can find a decent replacement for Steve Jobs soon. $1 salary, love for Apple, great vision and unwaivering nerve is what is required.

  1. GreenMnM

    Joined: Dec 1969


    OpenStreetMap disappointment

    Unfortunately, OpenStreetMap maps are so terribly inaccurate as to be almost useless. I get that they're not meant for driving, and some errors are made to prevent copying, but how come streets don't appear in straight lines if they're straight in real life? How can you make a map that completely leaves out significantly major roads or gives minor side streets highlights as if they were major roads? OpenStreetMap needs to hire some actual cartographers or get out of the "business".

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not Apple's "real" mapping system

    Re: " While Apple doesn't have its own full-fledged map system ..."

    Apple doesn't have its own full-fledged map system yet. But they've bought several mapping companies, including C3, with their incredibly detailed 3D city maps.

    OpenStreetMap is fine for low-resolution mapping, like in iPhoto. But it's just a matter of time before Apple massively improves their "real" mapping system. We'll probably see that in iOS 6 at WWDC this summer.

  1. DA360

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Why not use MapQuest?

    One thing I am confused by: If they don't want to use Google Maps (which I do have to admit, like or hate Google, is the best right now), Why don't they use MapQuest? Its a good competitor to Google Maps, has features like Satellite View, Traffic, etc. and even has an open equivalent ( that even OpenStreetMaps has an option of viewing on their site.

    As far as I am aware of, MapQuest is owned by AOL and I know Apple has no issues with them, since AIM support is in iChat (and the beta of Messages for Mac).

    The only thing I can guess is OpenStreetMaps has no licensing fees to use. But considering Apple has $100 Billion in funds, licensing fees shouldn't be a big worry.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    You can't really trust a mapping system that can't spell 'course' correctly!

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Without Steve

    Apple is starting to feel more and more like just another big company...

    Apple started feeling that way long before steve gave up the reins.

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