Google’s domination of online maps set to be challenged by new alliance

Google’s domination of online maps set to be challenged by new alliance
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Competitors of tech giant Google have announced the creation of the Overture Maps Foundation, which aims to make the data needed to build maps online available for free.

Alphabet and its subsidiary Google dominate the online map market with Google Maps, selling its services to other companies or platforms and using its location and navigation capabilities to bolster its other products, including online advertising.

Aiming to create an alternative, Meta (Facebook, Instagram...), Microsoft, TomTom and Amazon Web Services have founded an alliance. The goal: to make map data more available to the general public so that it can be used by anyone, according to a statement from the Linux Foundation, a global non-profit organisation enabling innovation through open source, which supports the Overture Maps initiative.

"Mapping the physical environment of all communities around the world even as they grow and evolve is such a complex challenge that no single organisation can manage it alone," Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin was quoted as saying by RTBF.

Google nowhere to be seen

Google was the big absentee from the list of companies to come together for Overture, which wants to expand its number of members to accelerate its progress. The coalition hopes to publish its first map datasets by mid-2023.

"Immersive experiences, which understand and blend into your physical environment, are essential for the embodied internet of the future," Meta Maps Engineering Director Jan Erik Solem said in the Linux statement, referring to the metaverse, a parallel universe seen by some as the future of online technology.

"By providing open, interoperability-based map data, Overture provides the foundation for an open metaverse built by creators, developers, and companies," he added.

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Map data is already at work in search, navigation, logistics, games, autonomous driving and more, said the Linux Foundation.

Overture's map data will be open source, meaning developers will not only be free to use it but also build more on it, the Linux Foundation has announced.

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