MapQuest Embraces OpenStreetMap

In an interesting development, MapQuest has launched a site that combines OpenStreetMap mapping data with its user interface and routing directions. MapQuest Open is limited to the U.K. for the time being (a wise decision considering the state of OSM elsewhere). “The beta platform,” says AOL’s press release, “will be a stand-alone offering and will live alongside MapQuest’s existing UK platform, which is based on commercially available map data.” It was announced at OSM’s State of the Map conference in Spain, along with a $1-million fund to improve OSM maps in the United States. More coverage: the Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog, Wired’s Webmonkey.

James thinks that AOL is “probably happy to spend their dollars on funding OSM than shipping them off to Navteq (er Nokia) and their competition” — which suggests that map sites’ moves toward OSM, and Google’s move toward its own map data, is a consequence of TomTom and Nokia’s takeover of the two major map data providers (Tele Atlas and Navteq, respectively). Considering the present state of Google’s and OSM’s data, long-term strategic moves at the corporate level may result in short-term excitement in terms of map data.