GIS Monitor Jan 25, 2001
-Autodesk to Enter Location Based Services
-Claritas and MapInfo Form Strategic Technology Alliance
-I Love a Mystery: An Imposter MicroStation 8 Web Site?
-Points of Interest
-New List at TenLinks.com
-Week in Review
AUTODESK TO ENTER LOCATION BASED SERVICES
Autodesk launched their Location Services Division on January 23,
signaling a corporate move into what is becoming a high growth market for
Autodesk hopes to be both a development platform provider as well as a
Location Services Provider (LSP). The platform will enable those who want
to build their own location-based apps to do so on top of Autodesk
technology. Autodesk also offers these developers access to their partners
and customer base. As an LSP, Autodesk will provide location-based
services to companies and wireless carriers (the companies who manage the
cell phone networks), saving them from having to invest individually in
hardware, software, data and staff. The vision is that these services will
increase the satisfaction of cell phone and PDA users and raise revenue
Autodesk makes the case that it has been providing solutions to telcos and
others for the past five years and has a good partnering history. Although
Autodesk claims its development platform was built from the ground up, I
imagine it relies heavily on MapGuide and Autodesk OnSite, the company's
two "Point of Work" solutions.
New partners Ericsson, Targa Services, (a FIAT Auto company) and Geodan
Mobile Solutions have agreed to implement the Autodesk platform. Autodesk
and Targa are taking a B2B2C (business to business to consumer) approach.
The two companies will develop and then distribute call center and point
of location services to wireless carriers/operators who will then provide
these services to subscribers. The two companies are already at work on
services to be delivered to the new Alfa Romeo. They plan to move similar
services to phones. The example given in the press release involves a user
calling a Targa operator. The operator is “automagically” provided the
caller's location and a variety of layers of information. Then the
operator does a query and sends the information, about the nearest
clothing store, for example, back to the user. (I wonder why an operator
needs to be involved?) Geodan is the first company to choose to build on
the Autodesk platform. Its services are expected throughout Europe in the
summer of 2001.
Of the three products the new division offers, two are already familiar:
MapGuide and Autodesk OnSite. MapGuide now has a flavor called MapGuide
Commerce, essentially the same product with special licensing. This could
be a way for Autodesk to charge more to use MapGuide as a LBS solution.
OnSite remains the same: a tool to get maps to the "Point of Work." The
new third product, a robust development platform, is "to be announced"
according to the Website.
Autodesk is looking for partners -- as are the other entrants into LBS,
including newly formed IntelliWhere (Intergraph’s parallel division) and
more mature wireless pioneer Airbiquity. Autodesk is specifically seeking
wireless carriers or network operators, hardware and device makers,
portals and gateways, hosting services, and developers of consumer and
business applications. Discussion of the technology appears in a Flash
demo on Autodesk's site (warning: lots of funky music) which suggests
developers can take advantage of geocoding, OLTP (online transaction
processing - where the computer responds immediately to user requests),
multipoint routing, and XML. So far as I know, Autodesk does not have its
own geocoding engine, leading me to believe plans to build or buy this
technology are in the works, or are already complete.
Does Autodesk have what it takes to make a go of LBS as an LSP and
platform provider? The GIS group, the source of the core technology and
experience, does have Java experience (a MapGuide client), and some
wireless experience with OnSite, though it is not clear how many
implementations are up and running. We can look to Autodesk’s history in
providing services for clues about its future. Autodesk GIS did not, in my
opinion, move from being a product company to a services company very
well. The number of staff and partners available for MapGuide
implementations never seemed sufficient to service potential customers.
Vision seems to have suffered a similar fate. In contrast, consider the
success of Smallworld as a technology and services provider. Or the
extensive ESRI staff devoted to consulting. The new division will need to
be service oriented from the start.
It’s not clear how this newly created division will interplay with the
"old" GIS Solutions Division. Since LBS appears to have taken MapGuide,
and Autodesk World is no longer in development, the GIS Solutions Divison
is left with AutoCAD Map, Vision and its new incarnation, the Autodesk GIS
Design Server. AutoCAD Map is perhaps best known as the engine
underlying Land Development Desktop, Autodesk's civil, survey and
Autodesk has a few challenges ahead. In order for Autodesk to really to
provide a complete solution, they must get into a relationship with a data
provider or two. Also, I have to wonder if Autodesk is simply too late.
Many of the hot players such as Airbiquity, Televigation, Mobilocity,
GeePS, go2, InfoMove have already found key partners and are ahead in the
game. Success will take more than an announcement and a new division. To
compete in a developing market without having their recent initiave
branded as a “me, too” effort, Autodesk will need true industry insight, a
major sustained corporate commitment, a will to succeed, and the patience
to see it through.
CLARITAS AND MAPINFO FORM STRATEGIC TECHNOLOGY ALLIANCE
Clarita and MapInfo will develop a new mapping and reporting solution to
support market and site analysis. No, this is not a repeat of the
announcement from December. This is a new one.
The skeptical among us have grown wary of the term “strategic” as used in
the GIS industry. It’s used widely to describe a company’s connection to
another company as in a “strategic partnership” or a “strategic
relationship.” What does that mean? Usually, these terms amount to little
more than bait dangled in front of the press in the hopes that they will
pick up the story.
Consider the impact of these historical strategic relationships in GIS
Kanotech and Autodesk – The biggest effect (or perhaps the cause?) of this “strategic relationship” was that Kanotech’s founder landed a job at Autodesk.
Autodesk and Earth Resource Mapping Form Strategic Alliance – This
alliance is dated 1997. Heard anything? There is no mention of Autodesk on
the ERM home page.
ESRI and Leica – This strategic relationship began in 1997. The two
companies announced a grant program last year and are working on
integrating their software. No word on who received the grants or the
status of software collaboration.
MapInfo and Oracle – To be fair, there might actually be something to this
relationship. It is, at least from the outside, one of the most visible.
MapInfo devotes a whole section on their website to the relationship and
regularly updates the status.
I LOVE A MYSTERY: AN IMPOSTER MICROSTATION 8 WEB SITE?
It all started with an anonymous letter in MicroStation Manager, Bentley’s
monthly magazine. While the editor noted the break from tradition by
printing an anonymous letter, he felt in this case anonymity was the only
way the letter writer would not lose their job. The writer of the letter
explained that he’d be keeping a close watch on the development of
MicroStation 8 and that visitors to his Website will “find my unfiltered,
un-spin-doctored stuff is better than any corporate Web site.”
The site, billed as “Ask the V8 Ball and Know the Truth” is not all that
helpful. There are a few bad pictures of Bentley events, some breathless
words about new functionality available elsewhere, and nothing demanding
further note. Further, the author goes on to say, “I know a number of
people at Bentley very well. So well, in fact, that I'm getting
information that I probably shouldn't be getting (and they don't know
it).” That I find hard to imagine -- all of the software companies I’ve
worked at had a high degree of paranoia.
This week an allegation appeared on comp.cad.microstation suggesting this
supposedly clandestine site was only a Bentley-staged promotional stunt!
The site is registered to someone in Phoenixville, PA, right outside of
Exton, Bentley’s hometown. Furthermore, it claims that the person in
question, probably the one who’d registered the site, does work at at
Bentley, but knows nothing about MicroStation. The preceding evidence is
considered by the poster as sufficient evidence that that Bentley
marketing has written and produced the site. Possible? Sure. Clever?
If this is indeed a Bentley-staged site, it is certainly not without
precedent. “Underground” type of word of mouth advertising is all the
rage. A recent article in Business 2.0 highlighted unbranded campaigns as
the latest weapon in guerilla marketing that has seen action by the likes
of Lee Jeans and their competitor, Levis. Lee used unbranded sites to
reintroduce Buddy Lee, their doll sized spokesperson from the 1920s.
Levi’s used movie theatre teasers and print ads to send the curious to the
first of 16 sites following the story of three Levis-clad adventurers.
Who stands to gain from unbranded campaigns? Certainly, the companies
behind them. These stunts are relatively cheap to produce compared to
traditional advertising campaigns. They may even be more effective in
increasing sales in an audience of increasing ad-jaded public. Who loses?
How about all those people duped into thinking they were led to a product
by people like themselves. But companies considering this technique might
want to think a little down the road. I’d worry about the backlash once
the truth came to light. How hard would if be convince people ever again
that any future testimonial was genuine?
POINTS OF INTEREST: WHO’S CHARGING AND WHO ISN’T
-The GIS Data Depot, at the top of the list for free GIS data, introduced
a new “premium” service. By giving a credit card number you can gain
access to data via a faster pipe (up to 100 kb per/second). Rates are 150
MB for $19.95, 1 GB for $99.95, and 7 GB for $495.95. You can also receive
discount rates posting jobs. A free account provides access to special
pricing and a 10Mb trial of the download service. “Standard” service is
still available for free, and without registration.
-GeoComm recently introduced a new discussion list, Metadata-L, to
discuss, you guessed it, metadata.
-GIS Café has gone against the grain and now there is no need to register
to download their freebies.
-At the GIS portion of About.com (and the rest of the site) you can now
find “Sponsored links” with the prices the sponsors are paying for your
“click.” Contex Scanners thinks you are worth 31 cents, ebay 30 cents and
geomapping.com 1 cent.
GIS MONITOR BACK ISSUES
ADVERTISE WITH US
You can reach more than 6,000 GIS professionals every issue by sponsoring GIS Monitor. For more information, email us.
Please send comments and suggestions to:
GIS Monitor Editor
Ultimate Map/GIS Directory - Your search is over!
If you wish to subscribe, unsubscribe or change your preferences visit our