Location Based Disservice

I’m betting at least some of you out there look at the release from Garmin and think “Bah, I could do what I want of that with my Series60 phone, a GPS unit, and some Python scripts”. It’s what I thought. And it’s what I did actually. I took a look at the amazingly mobile friendly Map Image set of calls into the Yahoo service and built myself a little Python script that would download an image every once in a while to show me where I was. Cool, right? But then Martin and Diego pointed out this from the bottom of that Yahoo maps API page:

Sensor-Based Location Limit

You may use location data derived from GPS or other location sensing devices in connection with the Yahoo! Maps APIs, provided that such location data is not based on real-time (i.e., less than 6 hours) GPS or any other real-time location sensing device, the GPS or location sensing device that derives the location data cannot automatically (i.e. without human intervention) provide the end user’s location, and any such location data must be uploaded by an end-user (and not you) to the Yahoo! Maps APIs.

And most people respond to what with “God.. what is Yahoo thinking? Do they not want people to use their APIs?” It’s not Yahoo, I’m 99.9% sure I know where that comes from. It’s exactly because of the thing I said before: “I can do most of the useful stuff with a simple phone and GPS so why do I need Garmin.” And then people say: “But why would Yahoo do that to protect Garmin? Is Yahoo making a device with them or something?” No, it’s not Garmin either. Look one level further up in the chain, to the folks I complained about in my last posting about LBS.

So who is it that would cripple the Yahoo mapping API and has a vested interest in protecting the bottom line of folks like Garmin? TeleAtlas is the one that pops to my mind. Download a map from Yahoo and you’ll see their logo in the corner. They sell that same map info to device manufacturers and charge them per copy of the data. If the Yahoo API were able to provide info in realtime to GPS enabled devices it would start to eat into the license revenue TeleAtlas makes off navigation devices. So what’s the response? There’s no technical reason for that restriction in realtime usage. There’s no realization that “Wow, the market is changing amd maybe we should revise our model some.” No, the response is to cripple to new technology in favor of continuing to milk the old. Does no one read Christensen besides my friends? Cause all of them see this is a boneheaded move long term. And a horrid disservice to what should be an even more booming location based services market reconstituted around web services.

Someone, please, if you know better than me on this one let me know. But the resources I’ve tapped within Yahoo don’t seem to know about any alternative reason for the restriction. And generally respond with “Wow, yea, that makes sense” when I tell them what my theory is.

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3 Responses to Location Based Disservice

  1. Sandeep says:

    Damn, I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Either way, this is just way too stupid, even for TeleAtlas.

  2. Spencer says:

    Bones in Motion is an ‘example case.’ We were about to start a Google Maps implementation for plotting GPS for BiM Active just when the Yahoo API was announced. We decided to evaluate both Yahoo and Google as tools, then saw the Yahoo restriction, and walked away.

  3. Pingback: Mike Rowehl: This is Mobility » Blog Archive » Microsoft Doing the Big Drive in the US

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