Google Maps vs. OpenStreetMap

June 1st, 2012

Challenging Google at anything requires confidence. The folks behind OpenStreetMap seem to have that quality in abundance. Maybe that’s why there are rumblings that the eight-year-old OpenStreetMap is positioned to become the most-used map service on the web.

OpenStreetMap is a digital world map, which allows users to map out directions or get a clear picture of a city they are visiting. Just like Google Maps, OpenStreetMap is free and it is rapidly 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 at the beginning of March when Apple switched from using Google Maps to OpenStreetMap in its mobile software for locations outside the United States. And more recently, Apple  dropped 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.

Other companies are making the switch as well. For example, a well known social media service, Foursquare, made the change earlier this year. So, what is the reason that OpenStreetMap is becoming so popular? One advantage that it has over Google Maps is that it lets users to update maps based on experience. Two heads are better then one, right? And if you look at the results that Wikipedia has had with this philosophy, it points to a bright future for the fledgling digital map company.

Google No Longer Invulnerable?

Taking on Google is usually an unwise decision, but the search giant has recently suffered some defeats. For example, its Google+ social media service hasn’t yet emerged as a serious competitor to either Facebook or LinkedIn. Will OpenStreetMap deal Google another defeat? That’s hard to tell, but for now it’s clear that OpenStreetMap is making gains and growing in popularity.

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