OpenStreetMap vs. Google Maps

Google has been the leader of online mapping with Google Maps for awhile. But that could change as the people behind OpenStreetmap try to compete for the title of the most-used web map service. This has created quite a stir and the company is only 8 years old!

OpenStreetMap is a digital world map, which allows users to map out directions or get a clear picture of a city they’re touring. Just like Google Maps, OpenStreetMap is free and it is growing in popularity. It may turn out to be a threat to Google Maps. In March it boasted nearly 560,000 individual registered users.

OpenStreetMap’s Growing Popularity

The mapping service also scored an important public-relations victory in early March when Apple moved from using Google Maps to OpenStreetMap in its mobile software for locations outside the United States. And more recently, Apple  dumped Google Maps for its iPhoto service on iOS, Apple’s new photo management app. The new maps on this service are created from OpenStreetMap data. This is probably one of the biggest indicators that OpenStreetMap poses a real threat to Google Maps.

Additionally, the popular social media service Foursquare moved from Google Maps to OpenStreetMap. Part of the reason for OpenStreetMap’s popularity is the fact that its registered members are able to update maps based on their own experiences. This is the concept behind the immensely popular Wikipedia. Readers, of course, can edit the online encyclopedia entries that make up Wikipedia. It is hard to imagine that Wikipedia would become the cultural touchstone that it is if not for this user involvement. That same type of involvement is something that OpenStreetMap has included since its birth eight years ago.

Google No Longer Invulnerable?

For some time it seemed unlikely that any company would challenge Google. Yet, they have had a couple less successful ventures lately. Google+ is a good example of this. While many people are on Google’s social media site, it doesn’t hold a candle to the activity that resounds on Facebook or Twitter. We shall see if the reputation of OpenStreetMap will continue to grow. It may surpass Google Maps as the most frequently used digital map service.


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