Google Maps definitely holds the crown of the world of digital map services and aerial imagery. But it seems that a very serious contender is rising to challenge its hegemony now. OpenStreetMap has been growing for quite some time and it has snatched away some very important clients from Google Maps, such as FourSquare. Apple has also opted for OpenStreetMap for iPhoto on iOS.
So why is it being so successful despite the fact that the star child, Google Maps, is already there? Apparently, this is because Microsoft is the one who is backing OpenStreetMap. Microsoft’s search engine, Bing has been using OpenStreetMap since 2010 and back then, Microsoft also announced that it would be using Bing Aerial imagery, using the mapping tool.
Now, it has been reported that apart from active backing of the project, Microsoft is also investing heavily into it. This may be because the company had had it with Google and now wants to end the hegemony of Google Maps.
The most significant incentive for the firms to switch to OpenStreetMap is that it is mostly free, unlike Google Maps for which the companies have to pay handsome fees. And with Microsoft’s behind-the-scenes support, the clients of the tool are also assured of the quality of the service. That pitches up a scenario for Google where companies start defecting from its service and started using OpenStreetMap.
And now that there are reports of Microsoft also funding the project, things could build up fast in favor of OpenStreetMap.