GIS MONITOR, Dec 14, 2000
-MapInfo Acquires Equifax's Compusearch
-Will LBS Change Behavior?
-A Visit to MapReport
-adAlive Introduces Internet Access-Points for PDAs
-Points of Interest
MAPINFO ACQUIRES EQUIFAX’S COMPUSEARCH
MapInfo this week bought Compusearch, a data and demographics company. In
May, Compusearch was sold to Equifax by R.L. Polk. Equifax took over the
Consumer Information Services group of R.L. Polk & Co. and created the
Equifax Consumer Information Services to focus on the direct marketing arm
of Equifax Inc.
Though MapInfo cited Compusearch’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
apps as a reason for the purchase, the real reason may have been data. Not
data in the “traditional” business geographics market analysis, but rather
the data resulting from MapInfo’s foray into location based services
(LBS). MapInfo wants to provide more services--and data--to vendors in
support of LBS and m-commerce.
Compusearch had previously partnered with ESRI and Autodesk, data vendor
Etak, and datadase vendor Sybase.
WILL LOCATION BASED SERVICES CHANGE BEHAVIOR?
Several recent articles found online question the economic potential
of location based services. “Where are they?” says one. “How will privacy
be maintained?” demands another. While hardware, software and data
vendors scramble to solve technical issues, and figure out which services
businesses and consumers want, potential end-users continue to live in a
non-LBS world. Will the availability of LBS change behavior when it
The question boils down to if, when, and to what extent end-users will
favor buying or using products and services found via LBS over traditional
ways? And how often, in reality, will they be used? Although populations
worldwide are becoming more mobile all the time, most of us tend to spend
the vast majority of our time in a few well known neighborhoods where we
frequent a regular set of destinations: the house, the office, the Chinese
restaurant, the dry cleaner, grocery store, hardware store, etc. After
all, we are mostly creatures of habit.
Let’s suppose you are traveling, those in need of a place to eat may first
ask a local. This could be colleague or the hotel concierge. That personal
recommendation -- and the vested interest of the respondent in the
requester’s happiness -- holds far more weight than a review from Zagats.
With access to LBS, your cell phone could present a restaurant
recommendation but will diners consult it? The same might be asked of
shopping on the Internet. Just because we can buy medications over the
Web, most of us still do not.
A VISIT TO MAPREPORT
MapReport has a simple premise: the site organizes news features based on
geography. A world map provides the backdrop for icons identifying the
locations of events in politics, sports, crime, business, and more.
Clicking on the link takes you to the story text. MapReport also provides
a map of similar categories for Silicon Valley. News stories come from
CNN, Yahoo and variety of newspapers. And if you think chronologically
rather than spatially, you can also access a timeline of the stories.
Is MapReport useful? It is certainly fun. It reminds me of a manual
“version” used in geography courses where news stories were are glued to a
But MapReport’s yellow outline maps are difficult to see and are quite
cluttered with icons. There is no clear discussion of how the news is
geocoded. A story on the Space Shuttle has a location in print of Cape
Canaveral, Florida but the story icon was in Kansas. A story on Greenspan
says he spoke in New York City, but its icon appears in Minnesota. Some
work is needed.
The company behind MapReport is CNT Group, which oddly enough seems to be
in the business of selling contact lenses. They also host pages for a real
estate app for Blackhawk, near San Francisco and a Russian map of San
Francisco that use the same bright yellow map and similar icons.
ADALIVE INTRODUCES INTERNET ACCESS-POINTS FOR PDAS
Would this business model make you money? You provide an infrared link to
the Internet for PDA users on otherwise traditional billboards in
airports. These billboards not only help the traveler “sync” to get the
news, send and receive e-mail and receive recommendations about local
places and events – all for free – but at the same time they promote
products or services. Of course, the traveler can also get the details on
the product/service advertised on the billboard. A hotel billboard might
include its rates, specials, a map, etc. You figure that during the time
all that data is exchanged you pretty much have a lock on a pair of
eyeballs belonging to the highly desirable PDA-toting demographic. That
kind of billboard should attract a hefty premium for advertisers, no?
This is how AdAlive envisions money being made with their access-points.
Billboard companies offer the access-points as a value add for
advertisers. Content companies such as 10best.com contribute content to
highlight their sites and draw more eyeballs for their advertisers.
“Revenues will be shared with billboard companies, who will face no
downside risk in deploying this capability. Multiple revenue streams from
advertising and e-commerce make AdAlive a very attractive growth
opportunity.” says the company’s Boston based VC funder.
End users will need to install special software for all this to work.
Would your personal information be uploaded from your PDA? "As to what
information people can upload and download, we are not disclosing at this
time, but it will be information that people care about," said Dipinder
Singh, co-founder and executive vice president of marketing and business
development for AdAlive.
With the demise of free Internet access recently, I am skeptical that a
service like this could make it. Further, airports and airlines are
looking for more ways to appease delayed travelers, including secure
connections, which may keep people away from billboards.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Gary Waters will leave ESRI after a ten-year stint as a top salesman and
most recently regional office manager for the Charlotte region. He joins
Novalis, an ESRI partner focusing on land records, as president.
@Track Communications has been warned of a potential delisting, December
15, from the NASDAQ Small Cap. The company, which focuses on wireless
fleet management, has requested a hearing to review the situation. @Track,
formerly HighwayMaster Communications Inc, hit a recent high of 12.50 in
Feb 2000. The 52 week low was November 30, 2000 at .58.
Location-based wireless marketing and content play Sonata let go one third
of its staff in November.
Need to go down under? A Perth, Australia-based firm is mapping all of the
13,000 public restrooms on the Australian continent and placing the data
on the Web. Is this the killer app for location based services?
Autodesk Ventures invested in Facility Information Systems, FIS. How a
company founded in 1993 qualifies as a startup, I’m not sure. FIS is
involved in the very tough Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM)
arena, where to date, only a few very expensive solutions, Archibus, for
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