Online mapping has been dominated by Google Maps for some time. Nonetheless, OpenStreetMap is gaining fast. Though it is only 8 years old, it is apparent that the people at OpenStreetMap are vying for the title of most-used web map service.
OpenStreetMap is a digital world map, which allows users to map out directions or get a clear picture of a city they’re touring. Just like Google Maps, OpenStreetMap is free and it is growing in popularity. It may prove to be a threat to Google Maps. In March it boasted nearly 560,000 individual registered users.
OpenStreetMap’s Growing Popularity
At the begging of March, Apple moved from Google Maps to OpenStreetMap for its mobile software for locations outside the United States. And more recently Apple left Google Maps behind and switched to OpenStreetMap for the creation of the photos on a new photo management app for iOS. This was possibly the clearest indication that OpenStreetMap could be a true rival for Google Maps.
Additionally, the widely used social media service Foursquare moved from Google Maps to OpenStreetMap. Part of the reason behind OpenStreetMap’s popularity is the fact that its registered members can update maps based upon their own experiences. This is the concept behind the immensely popular Wikipedia. Readers, of course, can edit the online encyclopedia entries that make up Wikipedia. It’s hard to imagine that Wikipedia would become the cultural touchstone that it is if not for this user involvement. That same type of involvement is something that OpenStreetMap has included since its birth eight years ago.
Google No Longer Invulnerable?
It used to be that challenging Google was an unwise decision, but things have changed recently. Google has had a few shots that it has missed lately. For instance, while Google+ exists, it is not real competition for Facebook, Twitter, or even Pinterest. Do you think OpenStreetMap is going to exceed Google Maps in popularity? Only time will tell.