Mike Blumenthal offers a provocative post this morning about Google’s apparent decision to end its relationship (at least in the US) with mapping data provider TeleAtlas. Recall that Google previously had a relationship with NAVTEQ, which ended some time after the acquisition of that company by Nokia. TeleAtlas was substituted and there was even an innovative “two-way” relationship in which TeleAtlas was incorporating user-generated corrections and changes from Google users into its data.
Many people complained or warned at the time of the switch from NAVTEQ to TeleAtlas that the latter’s data in the US was poor by comparison. TeleAtlas has always been viewed as being stronger in Europe. Google may have agreed and so is still using the company apparently outside the US. Mike cites a statement from TeleAtlas that seems to confirm the company is no longer working with Google in the US:
Tele Atlas confirms that Google has decided to stop using Tele Atlas map data for the U.S. Google will now use its own map data. Our relationship with Google for map coverage continues outside of the U.S. in dozens of geographies.
So what is Google doing to replace TeleAtlas here (and probably there in the near term)? It appears to be “going it alone,” with some combination of public (census) data and user-generated content, as well as information collected from Street View. This is the context is which the recent “report a problem” change should be viewed: Google now really needs people to step up and help correct and improve data that it’s collecting or creating itself.
Stepping back it appears that Maps have become such a strategic product for Google, extending into mobile, that it wants to control the process, data and the platform entirely. For more detail read Mike’s full post.