GIS MONITOR, November 22, 2001


- Autodesk Strong, But Q3 Revenue Down
- COMDEX 2001 in Review
- Dear Marketing Communications…

Departments: Points of Interest, Week in Review, Back Issues, Advertise, Contact, Unsubscribe

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Revenue and income for the quarter were both down over last year, but Autodesk felt the company did well in the challenging economy. The company did beat street estimates. Inventor sales are up, and AutoCAD 2002 is selling well. A focused R14 obit program should continue to fuel upgrades in Q4, which are currently at about 40%. Upgrade revenue was at $54.7 million last quarter and dropped to $36.6 this quarter. The installed base of AutoCAD numbers 2,984,000.

Revenue from the GIS group in the Design Solutions division was up over last quarter to $28.5 million. The group topped Manufacturing in Q3, which came in at $28.1 million and AEC group at $18.6 million.

GIS had a “great” quarter spurred by strong interest from civil and mapping customers, particularly in the Americas. Distribution and management was strong, too, with Telstra (Australia’s largest telecom) rolling out 8,000 PDAs using Onsite and MapGuide. (It’s a move from microfiche!)

Autodesk’s location service business was launched in early 2001. The first commercial deployment will be a multi-million dollar contract over the next 12 months. No further details were provided. Location services is currently housed in the emerging business group, alongside Buzzsaw and Autodesk Ventures.

Autodesk Q3 Revenue at $216M (-6%), Income $21M (-5%) 


COMDEX was reported to be smaller this year and heavily dominated by foreign technology companies. Here are some of the products of interest to the geospatial community.

Navitrak International Corporation announced the launch of its newest product, the Digital Navigation Assistant(TM), a rugged GPS-based handheld with a moving map display unit.

The Mercedes-Benz DriveBy InfoFueling demo car visited COMDEX. The car is fitted with a special broadband telematics system that allows large volumes of wireless data to be transmitted efficiently in a few seconds. The idea is that data will transfer from the car to drive-up receivers along the road. The data to be moved might include digital video, music and up-to-date maps. The examples in the press release include: buying an MP3 of a tune you hear (when you pass by a refueling post) or downloading a video of a child from a digital video camera to the car to send off to Grandma (at the next refueling post).

The idea of being able to clear the camera’s memory to a server is interesting, but why not just put a big hard drive in the car for storage? In a sense this is akin to hot syncing your handheld, only you will do it with your car. Brian McDonough, of suggests that “no matter how many times you say it, ‘DriveBy InfoFueling’ is still just the dumbest name for a superfluous, marketing-driven corporate product since ‘Britney Spears.’”

This report was not discussed at COMDEX, but it seems most consumers aren't yet interested in telematics. According to a new study by Dove Consulting, technology-savvy consumers in the Boston area found that 80 percent of those surveyed said they either had not yet heard about telematics or were unfamiliar with its specific features and benefits. Fully one-half said they weren't interested in telematics, even if it were offered for free. This tells me that vendors are doing a poor job of pre-selling the technology. Perhaps names like DriveByInfoFueling are part of the problem?

Onto more clever topics: ready for a keyboard that’s not a keyboard? Attach some pads to your palms and start typing. Senseboard Technologies Virtual Keyboard, shown off at COMDEX, is scheduled for general release in March 2002, and is expected to retail for about US$150.

Finally, Palm and Rand McNally walked away with the best mobile/handheld software at this year's event. Maybe it’s me, but if a mapping data cartridge for a Palm wins, it’s just not that great a year for technology.

Navitrak Announces Launch Of Rugged Handheld GPS Unit

Mercedes-Benz Unveils DriveBy InfoFueling Research Car; DriveBy InfoFueling Car Shows Future Telematics Concepts 

Opinion: Driving with Information: Things To Do Besides Steer
(Brian McDonough, 

Carmakers Hot on Telematics, Consumers Not 

Virtual Keyboard Replicates Real Typing (NewsFactor) 

Palm and Rand McNally Win Best of COMDEX


I am on the receiving end of press releases, meeting announcements and other marketing pieces looking to see the light of day on the TenLinks website or in GIS Monitor. It’s been a challenging few weeks on that front. In the interest of learning from each other, I want to share some of the ways the best intentions can go awry.

First off, I got a lengthy piece that did a great job distinguishing a company in a competitive environment. Unfortunately, it included a TLA, a three-letter acronym, which was not spelled out in the document. When I replied to the company, asking for the expansion and the definition, I received only the former. Making up buzzwords is standard practice these days, but please be sure to spell them out and define them each time you put out a release.

Later in the same week I received a marketing piece highlighting how a new hardware/software combination provided better looking maps that the “old” way. This is an effective premise. Unfortunately, the promised imagery on the company website that allowed a visual comparison was not easily found on the site. A follow up to the company revealed that though the release went out several days before, the Web team had not put up the pages in question. Please be sure material referenced in a release is not only on the site, but also easy to locate.

A bold release touting the benefits of a new software release left me with a few questions. A request for clarification went unanswered for a week. I did eventually learn that the claims were in fact, not valid. Please be ready to provide further information – be it via a prepared statement or on-demand.

A release, well the e-mail said it was a press release, turned out to be a brochure. It was a PDF (Adobe portable document format) inappropriate for publication. Also odd, the authors of piece were named therein. Please be clear on what you are sending, and if you’d like it published, please send plain text (best) or standard word processing document with no fancy formatting.

I received an e-mail message from a vendor with the subject “X Buys Y.” I was sure that little X could not buy Y, not in its wildest dreams. The press release outlined an exclusive licensing agreement between X for one of Y’s products. Please think about the subject of the message. This type of misleading subject can only hurt credibility.

Finally, I was sent an e-mail requesting my postal address. There was no company affiliation, nor suggestion of what the requestor hoped to send me via “snail mail.” I can speak only for myself, but hard copy materials, especially press releases, are not very useful to me. Further, asking for postal addresses in these times, without details of who you are and what you want to send, is a bit unnerving.

In short, in preparing and delivering materials to the press, who will in turn be delivering them to your potential customers, be sure to ask these questions: Who is my audience? Will they know the jargon? Is promised material available and accessible on the website? Do I have the time and materials follow up? Is the format for delivery appropriate? Is the subject of communication clear? Does it clearly describe the documents included? If you are not clear on the answers, it’s unlikely you are ready to send material out into the world.


- Location-based ads may be coming to your car. Wingcast, a joint venture of Ford Motor and Qualcomm, will offer a "gas station locator." Subscribers will be able to set up a profile on a website including identifying their preferred gas station chains. A computerized voice will notify the driver when the tank is low and offer directions to the nearest station of that chain. The vision is that this and other location-based features will be strictly “opt-in.”


- Bill Thoen notes that MapInfo has recently updated the MID/MIF format. The PDF file is available from the MapInfo-L Clearinghouse website. 

- Bentley noted in its latest Online Theatre the creation of a MicroStation GeoGraphics newsgroup. SELECT MicroStation
GeoGraphics users can join. 

- Autodesk continues to tweak its product names. Autodesk CAD Overlay is now Autodesk Raster Design. Actually, it was first Image Systems CAD Overlay, then Softdesk CAD Overlay, so this is at least its third name change. The company is looking for beta testers of Raster Design 3. 

- Mapping in your nose is now possible with a new “stealth” technology that is compared to GPS by Dr. Roy Casiano, head and neck surgeon at the University of Miami School of Medicine who has been using the technique for several years. The technique is particularly useful when anatomy has been altered and landmarks are lost. 


Nov 20 - Intergraph Selected by Catalan Ministry of Public Works 
Intergraph's GeoMedia technology will be the platform for the new corporate GIS.

Nov 20 - City of Renton Selects SPATIALinfo for CAD/GIS Mgmt 
SPATIALinfo will help to model and create the Oracle database that will operate as the warehouse for the City's spatial data.

Nov 20 - SignalSoft Grows Fast, Launches "Friend Finder" 
The company ranked Number 277 on the 2001 Deloitte & Touche Technology Fast 500, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology companies in North America. mobilePosition, a SignalSoft company announced it will deliver its friendPosition® application to a Swedish mobile operator. friendPosition allows people to find groups of friends using their mobile phones.

Nov 20 - Sun Endorses LocatioNet APIs for OGC Interface 
Sun Microsystems has announced its selection of LocatioNet as its official co-sponsor for the OpenLS Initiative. The press release says that “The co-sponsorship is Sun's endorsement of LocatioNet's API as the industry standard.”

Nov 20 - CellPoint Reports First Quarter Results 
Revenues are down by about ½ from last year’s $900,000. The company pulled out of the telematics and their location technology seems to be slowing in sales.

Nov 20 - GeoMicro's AltaMap Server Powers OH Real-Estate Info 
Lucas County, Ohio, has released a new version of their popular Auditor's Real Estate Information System based on GeoMicro technology. The listing of training sessions and tutorials on the main page gives the illusion that this is a difficult system to use. It’s not, really.

Nov 19 - DeLorme Licenses SPOT USA Select Satellite Imagery 
DeLorme purchased the SPOT USA Select nationwide satellite image mosaic under an exclusive mapping channel agreement. DeLorme expects products based on the data to roll out immediately.

Nov 19 - Bruegger’s Bagels Selects geoVue 
The company will use geoVue’s iSITE online solution and consulting services through partner Site Analytics.

Nov 16 - Kodak to Buy Inkjet Maker ENCAD

Kodak will buy ENCAD Inc for $25 million, a move that will boost profits in 2003 and places Kodak among the top three sellers of wide-format inkjet products. Kodak is now in imaging and deeper into printing. It seems we’ll see quite a bit more of them in the GIS arena.

Nov 16 - IntelliWhere and GCWare Partner 
I believe that GCWare is in the LBS platform and application business. They are in Prague, Czech Republic.

Nov 16 - U.S. Xpress Selects FreshMaps for Intranet Vehicle Tracking 
Xpress Enterprises, Inc. has selected FreshMaps Internet Mapping tools for an intranet-based vehicle tracking application.

Nov 15 - Tele Atlas North America Launches Free Online "Webinars" 
“Tele Atlas is the first in the spatial data industry to offer educational seminars over the web.” That may be true, however most of the “webinars” I’ve “attended” have been less than helpful. I hope this one is different.

Nov 15 - Mobility Technologies' to Test Real-Time Weather/Traffic 
The company is conducting a pilot program of its Weather Pulse(SM) sensor system in Philadelphia that provides real-time weather data to its Digital Traffic Pulse(SM) system, which measures real-time traffic flow, speeds and travel times.

Nov 15 - ImageLinks Named to 2001 Deloitte & Touche Fast 500 
The company ranked Number 283 on the 2001 Deloitte & Touche Technology Fast 500, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology companies in North America.

Nov 15 - Wherify Selects Intrado for Emergency Services For GPS 
Intrado's Emergency Call Relay Center (ECRC) will be used to answer, process and route Wherify's GPS Personal Locator emergency call traffic to the nearest Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).

Nov 15 - Imagery Gets to the Four Corners 
I believe that Compass Web Server is a data management solution for ERM’s Image Web Server.

Nov 15 - Group 1 Software Alliance With ESRI 
With this agreement, ArcIMS, ESRI's GIS for the Internet, will be integrated into Group 1's DM1 enterprise marketing automation system.


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