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Microsoft quietly teams with Apple in backing OpenStreetMap

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Some extra sleuthing has confirmed that OpenStreetMap is getting more support from major companies than Apple.

Microsoft not only hired OpenStreetMap’s founder Steve Coast as its main designer for Bing Mobile but has been in a two-way supply of content deal. Bing provides some map data for the project but also draws on OpenStreetMap to fill out its map content.

Both Apple and Microsoft share the same objectives. By supporting and using OpenStreetMap, they create a significant alternative to Google Maps, which has about 71 percent of online map views as of February. Either would want to reduce their dependency on a competitor and ‘punish’ Google for Android, either for Apple’s belief that the OS is inherently copied or for Microsoft’s view that Android for the past few years has usurped its place as the licensed mobile OS of choice.

Microsoft is in a better position to rely more on OpenStreetMap than Apple. While Apple doesn’t have its own full-fledged map system and would lose important features like mass transit directions if it cut support early, Microsoft has been willing to take hundreds of millions of dollars in losses each quarter to build up its entire Bing search platform and offer a Google competitor.

As a service, OpenStreetMap has been popular for third-party GPS apps and even for some dedicated GPS hardware, since its map data is free and just requires credit. [via PCWorld]

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