GeoData, Music, and Amazon

De-Evolution of GeoData market is needed to give us more freedom of choice.

Ed Parsons’ post comparing music and geodata has generated some interesting discussion.

I don’t have precise numbers, but still, I think it’s useful to compare the two markets in terms of Pareto distribution.

I would guess the top two vendors (artists?), Navteq and Teleatlas, account for 99% of the geodata sold to the consumer market for use with the GPS devices. Five years ago this percentage must have been much smaller. Clearly the Gini Index for geodata is rising. With so many GPS devices being sold and a growing awareness of geodata by the general public, can Web2.0 somehow help the market de-evolve so its tail becomes more proportional to its head?

Compare that to the music industry where the top 10 artists account for (maybe) 10% of all revenue. That’s just a guess. You could probably get a better estimate with data from RIAA. At any rate, I’d bet Gini index for the music market is falling, thanks to companies like Amazon.

The term “Long Tail” was coined to describe Amazon. As an industry we need to be thinking about how the market for GeoData can grow a long tail. As Ed points out:

Remember this is not always about making information free, it is about making it accessible.

I think it’s worth watching what Amazon does. Of the GAMY four horsemen (Google,Amazon,Microsoft,Yahoo) they are the only ones not leveraging their geodata assets. Amazon must be sitting on a goldmine of consumer spending geodata. Imagine the kinds of maps that could created by summarizing shipment locations for particular products. Google, Microsoft and Yahoo all seem to view geodata as a means to sell future advertising. Amazon doesn’t have an advertising based business model, so if/when they do get into geodata I think we can expect something different.

Perhaps their selection of WeoGeo as a finalist in their web services challenge is an indication. Perhaps they are planning a spatial equivalent to their popular MP3 store? Even though their MP3 store competes with iTunes, it’s not to say they find fault in the iTunes approach – isn’t Kindle basically an iPod for books?

Perhaps Amazon Web Services could offer a WMS service using data mined from their sales activity, then open that up so that third parties could publish their own geodata. To grow an even longer tail, Amazon needs to look at ways to reduce shipping costs. It seems like they could open up traditional bricks and mortar stores (or franchises) so that I could order something and pick it up at a location near my house, reducing shipping costs.

Then again, maybe the prospect of Christmas shopping has made me delusional.


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