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Facet Takes On Navteq, Tele Atlas

Eden
Prairie, Minn. – Facet Technology is launching this month
a GPS-ready road-grade map of the continental U.S. in an attempt to break the
duopoly held by Navteq and Tele Atlas.

In addition, two
other mapping companies â€” Automotive
Navigation Data
(AND) and CloudMade â€” also
hope to launch GPS-ready maps for the U.S. in 2010. 

Many of the market
newcomers claimed there is strong demand for alternatives to Navteq and Tele
Atlas, who were purchased last year respectively by Nokia and TomTom â€” competitors
to the same companies that purchase their maps.

 “Since they were acquired, I think there’s a
reluctance to purchase maps from your competition,” said Facet Technology
co-founder Jamie Retterath, adding, “For example, Garmin is doing so now, but
will they want to continue to get maps from a competitor?  So I think you have a number of players out
there that are using legacy maps until there’s a better alternative.”

Facet maps offer
more attributes than current maps but at a lower price, claimed Retterath. The
company has already “signed some deals” for its maps with either smartphone
and/or PND makers, but would not offer client names.

Retterath said
Facet maps indicate stop signs, speed limits, traffic lights and 3-D heights of
the roads to provide slope data, creating attributes not often found on other
maps. He further claimed that his maps are accurate to 7 feet or less, which is
more precise than current maps, he stated.

Retterath added
that a larger personal navigation device (PND) maker “could save a lot of money
by using our maps.”

Facet’s ultimate
goal is that its maps will be precise enough to support an “autonomous vehicle”
that could drive itself. 

AND, based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, provides road-grade GPS maps
in Western Europe and is planning to complete maps of the U.S. in 2010,
according to CEO Maarten Oldenhof. Where Facet and traditional map makers drive
the roads in mapping vans, which take measurements of the roadways, AND said it
“creates maps by combining many different sources, not by driving around in
mapping vans,” said Oldenhof. AND combines more than 50,000 “high-quality data
sources, leveraging various source material including aerial photos, tax data,
direct mail partners, topographic maps, publically filed documents, etc.” he
said.

CloudMade, which started in the U.K. and now has offices in Menlo
Park, Calif., also hopes to offer
navigation-quality maps of the continental U.S. in 2010. Its maps are based on
user input, where thousands of users create “Wiki” maps.

“When you think of
maps, you think of road maps and types of roads,” explained CEO Marc Prioleau,
but he said that Wiki users can add attributes beyond road location, including
maps of city foot paths and cycling paths, historical trails and hiking
trails.  “So the target isn’t to be the
next Navteq, but something richer than that because it’s built on community
input, not just creating the road network,” he said.

When enough Wiki
users work on a map, you start to get a road grade “navigable map” said
Prioleau. He said the CloudMade map is now active in the U.S., with the
top 30 metropolitan areas offering display and search capability.

Yet another form
of maps under development are “crowd source” or “live” maps, created by tracing
the routes of many drivers, ultimately resulting in a navigable map, as Waze is
pursuing in the U.S. through smartphone apps. 
Waze already offers a popular crowd-source map in Israel with
approximately 80,000 users that claims to be 85 percent accurate. The company
launched a smartphone App in the Android Marketplace this month and is planning
an iPhone
App
.

Also, Delorme on
Monday announced it is entering the OEM topography map business for outdoor GPS
devices.

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