[Osmf-talk] a receding opportunity

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Mon Oct 1 09:15:39 UTC 2012


On 10/01/12 09:35, Mikel Maron wrote:
> On the other hand, we still have zero real understanding of how and
> where OSM might be used in iMaps. We have some strong suspicions of
> where it might be used. We don't understand exactly how the data is
> being combined or not-combined with other sources. We don't have an
> effective, confidential communication channel inside Apple. Apple is
> famously quiet with outsiders, of course. No one from Apple is speaking
> at SOTM-US.

Frankly, I don't think we should be concerned.

We have this open license so that anyone can use our data within the 
limits of the license. Other than that we don't mind. We don't run after 
our users and try to understand what exactly they are doing or not 
doing. If they want to engage in a dialogue with us then fine; if not 
then, not.

Millions of people have used OSM on their iPhone even before iOS6, and 
not a discussion where you won't find somebody point out that "pure OSM" 
apps exist for those who are interested.

> Meanwhile, more people than ever before are getting obsessed with how
> their home is mapped. And they don't have any productive outlet.

Do you mean they don't have any productive outlet because

1. they don't know about OSM, or
2. they know about OSM but OSM is not productive for them because their 
Apple map product doesn't use OSM data in the area where they live?

> OSM has had a real opportunity in this whole thing, to add a new voice
> to this conversation. Explain how we do things, and how powerful it is.
> Open channels to Apple to show what OSM could really do here. Win over
> new mappers. Make the map better, and more used.

I'm still not sure what direction you are going into. Are you saying 
that Apple might be violating the license by their process of combining 
our data with theirs and not releasing anything? Or are you saying that 
we should simply cash in more on the PR opportunity? Or are you saying 
we should actively try and get Apple to use OSM in their mapping product?

In your picture, where are those businesses that are part of the OSM 
ecosystem and sell or provide alternative mapping solutions on iOS - 
like Skobbler with their ForeverMap, or the pioneering Offmaps. Should 
we be trying to cut them out by dealing with Apple directly, make Apple 
use OSM and make those applications obsolete - or should we be trying to 
get these manufacturers to work with Apple, given that they already have 
the experience in the field? Would it be totally naive to assume that 
these manufacturers will already attempt to talk to Apple, spending more 
time on it than we possibly could?

I fear a slippery slope here. We have no obligation towards these 
businesses but actively calling for Apple to ruin the market for these 
applications might be going too far?

> But we haven't been able to do anything. OSMF does not move
> pro-actively, in the media, with data users. We're essentially a
> reactive organization, and that is costing us a substantial opportunity
> right now.

I'm not so worried. I think that the whole episode has got people 
thinking about where the map data comes from. Even those who, 
previously, just took whatever Apple served them, might now stop and 
think about that. A few days ago I was called by a journalist who wanted 
to take the opportunity to publish a well-researched piece about map 
data, how it is made, where it comes from, and so on. (*)

I don't own an iPhone and I don't live in the US; maybe that's why I am 
sometimes surprised about the concept of "oh god oh god I think Apple 
has blinked WHAT DO I DO NOW???". Or is it my age? For me, what Apple 
does or doesn't do is completely irrelevant and I certainly won't 
support treating Apple any different than any other large maker of 
consumer electronics.

> It's not too late. A strong public statement, explaining how OSM works,
> how we perceive iMaps, and a real open invitation to Apple is what I'd
> suggest.

There's certainly nothing wrong with a strong public statement about how 
OSM works, but the "how we perceive iMaps" and the "open invitation" 
should be worded in a way that they apply generally, and not to one 
particular product of one particular manufacturer. Everyone is welcome 
to use our data and to work with our community, including but not 
limited to Apple.

As for "pushing the back channels into Apple", I don't think there's 
much room for secret diplomacy in a project like ours. We can't, and 
mustn't, sell our (project) soul for five minutes in the iOS limelight; 
if we do too much through "back channels", the project as a whole will 
suffer from that.


(*) The journalist was already well informed about OSM because he had 
interviewed me earlier, and now wanted to know details about TeleAtlas 
and Navteq, so I deflected him to a contact there.

Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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