Today at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, deCarta announced a set of free developer tools intended to challenge Google Maps and Places. I received a briefing last week and was impressed by the suite of products and tools, which include the following:
- White Label Maps Application
- White Label Local Search Engine
- Maps APIs
- LBS Server Technology
- Turn-by-Turn Navigation
All the basic services are free and have larger limits than Google Maps API. There are two premium versions of the service that cost money after API limits are hit. In addition to maps and navigation, deCarta has a search engine and local POI data as part of the package.
One of deCarta’s big arguments is that with Google developers and publishers need to promote the Google brand, whereas theirs is totally white-labeled.
I’m not a developer and so can’t speak to the ease or difficulty of integrating these offerings vs. Google. But they appear to go head to head with Google’s APIs and offer more generous terms. My understanding is that deCarta is also offering the option of monetization via third party local ad networks with strong eCPMs. Local CPMs are higher in mobile that generic national ad CPMs.
Local business and POI data is all but commoditized now, with a broad range of companies offering a free local database. It’s not clear what the quality of these various databases are; however deCarta’s comes from one of the three major US providers.
Other free local data sources include SimpleGEO, Factual, Placecast. CityGrid, Google Places (limited availability) and Facebook Places (limited availability). Beyond the data however, the deCarta maps/data/search/navigation package appears unique in terms of its comprehensiveness.