[OSM-talk] OSMF to provide commercial tile service? [WAS: something else]

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Tue Oct 11 20:31:45 BST 2011


On 10/11/2011 09:00 PM, Serge Wroclawski wrote:
> It's also a fact that a lot of people/organizations, when we tell them
> "Run your own tileserver", don't want to. And they also don't want to
> use a third party tile service. They don't want to because they aren't
> interested in a "Mapworld Map" or a "Sunmap Map"- they want an
> OpenStreetMap map.

Yes but there is no OpenStreetMap map. There is an OpenStreetMap database.

> I also suggested an "Endorsed vendor" program, but I guess that was
> dismissed by the Powers That Be?

I think it is going to be very difficult for OSMF to endorse vendors. 
After all, we wouldn't simply want to "endorse" someone just because he 
gives us $$$. So we'd need to have a "qualified vendor" programme where 
we make sure that we endorse only people who really know their stuff. An 
interesting area but there's a lot of work down that road.

> We spend a lot of resources blocking bad actors. We then spend a lot
> of time/energy/effort trying to get them to use commercial vendors
> (who we have no association with) or to run their own. A lot of these
> guys don't want to run their own; it's not their interest and not
> their domain, and they want to be associated with us.
> I see that as an opportunity to work with them. Instead of pushing
> them away, we can work with them.

That is possible but the operative word is "WORK". A commercial 
operation will have to use different processes. A commercial operation 
could not simply change their map style overnight without telling 
anybody (like we do). A commercial operation would have to guarantee 
certain service levels (which we don't). If one of your commercial users 
runs amok and adversely affects the others, then you cannot tell the 
others "sorry but there was a bad guy" (like we currently do) - they 
will ask to be protected from that. And so on.

My point is that you cannot simply do commerical tiles on the side - it 
requires business planning, product and pricing design, and paid staff 
to make it happen. Staff that must be overseen of course, and business 
risks that must be taken into account. All that creates a lot of work 
and I am not sure if there will be a net benefit. You make it sound as 
if selling tiles was a low-hanging fruit that we would be foolish to 
ignore. From my own business experience, I tend to disagree.

I also disagree with your point that tile users "do not want someone 
else's map but they want OpenStreetMap". After all, attribution requires 
that if you buy OSM tiles from Cloudmade or Geofabrik or use the free 
MapQuest ones, you will always have to attribute them to OpenStreetMap. 
I don't think that many people make the difference you are making ("yeah 
I know this is OpenStreetMap data and OpenStreetMap styles that $VENDOR 
uses to produce tiles bit I want THE REAL OPENSTREETMAP!!!"). Au 
contraire - as a project, we are very interested in people *not* taking 
our Mapnik tiles as "THE REAL OPENSTREETMAP".


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

More information about the talk mailing list