OSM Business models

Interesting post by Stefan at the United Maps blog, which continues “the now OpenStreetMap has matured and is taken seriously.. what next ? meme”.

In Amsterdam I had a few chats with people talking about how OSM contributions might find their way into commercial products and if we would see different distributions of OSM, or even a forking of the project as different organisations have varying perspectives as to what they see as important.

Without question the current licensing of OSM does as Stefan points out restrict is commercial use. In my personal opinion there will need to be a less viral license established at some point for many commercial organisations to use OSM data.

Over time we will see other commercial distributions or OSM data and other services set up that compete with Cloudmade which will be another positive step in moving open geodata forward.

This will be because they will no doubt have a different perspective and may suggest changes to the project and licesning of it’s data that will take the OpenStreetMap project in different directions.

This may well be a painful process, just look at the history of other large open source projects, but it may be a necessay step for OSM to as SteveC quoting Geoffrey Moore says “Cross the Chasm” into mainstream adoption.

Written and submitted from the Google Office, London

5 replies on “OSM Business models”

Interesting developments that bring OSM a step closer to the realms of mainstream value-added resellers, adding choice etc.

Speaking of ‘interesting’, Google’s aerial survey plane has been spotted in the UK. When’s the next disruption due then?



Surely it was Phil Tufnell flying the plane if yesterday’s Test Match Special is to be believed?


As an entrepreneur I was blown away by SOTM this year. On the one hand, OSM is an amazing resource that has the potential to deliver so much value to so many. On the other hand community based projects are often complicated, slow, and hard for the layman to understand.

The person who can bridge that gap provides real value. There are so many businesses that could be made here. Cloudmade is a great example, but will certainly be only the first of many.

Given Google will be relying on crowdsourced updates and corrections to their US Map dataset, will Google offer the map into the public domain? Given the mantra, ‘Don’t be evil’, it seems to be the right thing to do.

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