GIS Monitor July 26, 2001
-MapInfo Q3 Conference Call Highlights
-Location-based Games Growing
-Book Review: Open Access: GIS in e-Government
Departments: Points of Interest, Letter, New List, Week in Review, Back
Issues, Advertise, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe
MAPINFO Q3 CONFERENCE CALL HIGHLIGHTS
Unlike many previous MapInfo earnings calls, this one was decidedly
downbeat. The company failed to meet expectations for Q3 and reported
earnings of 1 cent per share vs. 15 cents for Q3 last year.
The company attributed the poor earnings to slowing investments by
telecommunications companies, which generate 35% of MapInfo revenues. The
officers also noted a slowdown in the growth rate of new customers due to
lowered IT spending across industries and the general lengthening of
decision cycles. Competition was not a factor – a point mentioned
repeatedly. The next two quarters are likely to be more of the same:
single digit growth. When pushed for predictions, executives suggested
$28-29 million for the coming quarter, about 2-4 cents per share. First
quarter of next year could well be in the same range. For the year, the
suggested estimates were 34 cents per share or about $112 million in total
Overall, the downturn affected software and data equally and cut across
geographies. Mark Cattini, president and CEO made it clear that the
company is not satisfied at all with earnings, especially for Canada and
Australia. What went wrong? Sales execution of one product was the culprit
in Canada but there was no particular issue in Australia. Cattini did
highlight that two new Canadian products (StreetPro Canada and MapMarker
Plus Canada) should get things back on track up north. Australia is still
feeling the ERSIS acquisition, but new director David Taylor is expected
to reinvigorate the region.
The best performing market was Europe, which grew 20% to $8 million in
revenue. The UK was noted as being particularly strong this quarter. The
US, in contrast, was up only 3%. Data continues to bring in 40% of
worldwide revenue, up from 30% a year ago. Of that about 20% is from
subscription offerings. Software comes in at 51% compared to 53% last
New customers broke down this way: a single custom was in the “over $1
million” category with three over $500,000. Seventy customers (new and
existing, as I understood it) had orders over $50,000 compared with 78
The company feels confident the mix of products is correct. Customers are
happy and continue to order, just in a more limited way. Cattini noted one
customer who was ready with a $500,000 order that ended up ordering only
$350,000 due to budget constraints.
As the company looks ahead, the expectation is continued software sales in
traditional markets and the growing customer resource management areas
(CRM). MapInfo Pro 6.5 is now certified on Window 2000. MI Aware should
ship this quarter and the company anticipates signification interest. The
wireless strategy has grown in three steps.
1. Partnering – Alcatel, Lucent and Motorola have signed on.
2. Bidding – MapInfo -- sometimes with partners -- has actively responded
to requests and provided prototypes to wireless carriers.
3. Waiting – MapInfo is currently waiting on the results of these bids and
is quite hopeful. Eleven total bids were tendered, most of which would
generate $1,000,000 or more each in revenues. The contracts are expected
in Q4 or Q1 2002 with monies coming in toward the end of next year.
LOCATION-BASED GAMES GROWING
Location-based games? Think back. Remember tag, hide and seek and capture
the flag? "Assassin" was big at my college campus. Each player, armed
with a squirt gun, was assigned a target. Each player also received a
playing card. Each time you “killed” you took on the “dead” players
assignment along with their playing card(s). The player with the most
cards won. It was fun to do once.
Now, take that idea hi-tech. In Botfighters, your weapon, proximity alarm
and locator are all your SMS (Short Message Service) supporting phone.
After signing in at the gaming Website and building your robot, you are
off and “running.” You can track other players’ whereabouts on your phone.
Get within one kilometer, and you can “shoot” using SMS messages. Robots
have personalities and different guns and protection. The winner of the
battle receives points that can be used to “purchase” weapons and robot
upgrades. The loser goes back to their point stash to rebuild. The game is
currently in a trial phase in Sweden, with a UK trial set to come online
Not surprisingly, the main demographic is males 15-25, who do other online
and offline gaming. Critics suggest that this game may confuse fantasy
with reality, especially for kids.
Does this sound fun? Compared to “Assassin” it sounds too easy. If your
phone warns you someone is near and gives you an explicit location, what
exactly is the challenge? It’s just not the same as lying in wait in the
girl’s bathroom for your target to enter.
In short, I don’t think this is the killer phone game.
BOOK REVIEW: GIS IN E-GOVERNMENT, R.W. Greene, ESRI Press, 2001
This book advertises ESRI in a big way. I HAD to get that off my chest.
Having said that, ESRI uses many of its books (often provided gratis) to
educate potential users, students and the general public about how GIS is
used in a variety of areas. So, overall, this is not necessarily a bad
The book is loaded with pictures of Web sites from ESRI users with minimal
explanatory text. Each of the ten US-based case studies sets up why the
local, state, federal government or agency moved to the Web. Little is
said of the issues involved in that choice or how they were resolved.
Instead, there are pages and pages of discussion of what happens when a
visitor hits this or that button on the organization’s page. This would
make sense if you don’t have Web access and would serve as a nice overview
of what’s been done. Otherwise, one would learn far more visiting the
sites and actually pushing the buttons!
The marketing spin does take away from a colorful presentation. Many
statements, woven throughout the case studies, make it clear you are
reading a brochure: “The extension [to ArcView] allows anyone creating
maps in ArcView GIS to deliver those maps over the Internet to anyone with
a standard browser. More importantly, simple customization can make those
maps interactive: letting you narrow the thematic focus of a map, or to
pose questions about the features in it.” “With ArcIMS, you can create
complete and self-contained e-government mapping services on a Web site
that incorporate the kind of GIS power available inside an organization.”
URLs and detailed hardware and software configurations are available for
each profiled installation and provide a good “reality check” for those
exploring implementation. Still, this is not a how-to book, but a coffee
table book of success stories.
POINTS OF INTEREST
-GeoTEC notes that Ray Mears (the “bushcraft” specialist) will give the
keynote at their annual conference in Canada. It seems to me that show
organizers announce keynote speakers just to remind potential attendees of
an upcoming conference. There aren’t many conferences that I would attend
because of a keynote speaker. Still, some of the keynotes that “came with”
conferences were very memorable: James Burke (author of Connections) at an
ESRI conference in Palm Springs, Bob Ballard (who found the Titanic and
founded the Jason program) at NEARC and Geoffrey Moore (Crossing the
Chasm) at Autodesk’s CADCAMP.
-Devon Island, in Canada’s artic, is serving as a stand-in for Mars for
scientists and those interested in pretending to be on the red planet. One
team is working on a mapping mission.
-KFC’s children’s quiz game card says Vermont is not part of New England —
and puts New York in its place. Oops. The good news: cards returned to KFC
headquarters will receive a coupon for a free drink and new card. Word is
the cards were manufactured in China.
-A new fabric from ElectroTextiles is being touted as the electronic
building material of the future. It can be folded and is quite durable.
First up, foldable keyboards due out later this year. There is also
discussion of folding phones.
-dot-info sign up time began on Wednesday. Up until Aug. 27, those with a
registered trademark can pay to reserve a dot-info domain. After that,
it’s a free for all. The domain is to go live on September 19.
Ralph Grabowski, editor of Upfront.ezine, comments on the Location Privacy
Protection act introduced last week to the US Congress. It aims to protect
consumers from companies gathering and selling their locational
“The companies will easily get around the law: ‘you want service, you
agree to our contract, which lets us sell info about you.’ Just like
software companies, etc.”
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