The inclusion of the free Google Maps Navigation app on the new Verizon Droid isn’t the only thing shaking up the until-now lucrative mapping and business. Google, which seems to want to own all of the world’s data, is now very much in the mapping business, on which is is starting to work its disruptive magic.
Until now, Google licensed map data from a variety of sources including Tele Atlas, INEGI, MapLink, and Europa Technologies. But these days, if you look at a U.S. map on Google, the only copyright notice you are likely to see is Google’s. In the course of driving the country collection pictures for Google Street View, Google has built up its own database of maps as well as the data needed for turn-by-turn driving instructions.
Google’s possession of its own map data and its willingness to make it available free, though sometimes sprinkled with ads, could be very bad news for companies that have spent a fortune building and maintaining map information databases. Suddenly, two of last year’s big deals, Nokia’s $8.1 billion acquisition of Navteq and TomTom’s $4.3 billion purchase of Tele Atlas, look like they may not have been among the swiftest of corporate M&A moves.