January 18, 2006

Why royalties are killing LBS in Australia

Posted in Articles at 10:44 pm by siddey

A casual peruse of various Australian Telco websites today once again highlighted prices for service “value-adds” that are disproportionate to the value that they really add.

With Optus recently announcing the availability of the Multimap and Microsoft Mappoint web service based FindA service, it was good to see a period in which usage was free. What was disappointing, however, was that it was only for one month, following which users are slugged AU$4.95 per month to access your typical ho-hum map-enabled directory service.

There is the option of paying for data usage instead of a flat monthly fee but given the service is graphically oriented, this is probably not a wise move for the geographically challenged. Telstra, as would be expected, don’t offer a flat rate for their equivalent service. It is advertised as “free *”, with the cost to the user coming in the form of data charges.

Arguably, this is yet another example of the hidden cost of map data in Australia. For Optus, royalties to PSMA, Multimap, Microsoft and obviously themselves result in a price, that by today’s standards, should get me about an hour’s worth of air time with the astronauts in the International space station. What Telstra’s excuse is, I don’t know. Perhaps i-mode is really killing them on royalties to DoCoMo.
I can’t see anything remotely appealing LBS-wise across the Telco offerings, especially for the prices they are asking. It is probably time to temporarily put my dreams of a Navteq / Google partnership on the back-burner (until they get over their video phase) and start looking towards an Australian equivalent to Navizon.

If you have not heard of Navizon, here is the 25-words-or-less introduction….

1. Download software to your GPRS, GPS and/or WiFi enabled mobile or PDA

2. Aimlessly wander the streets automatically detecting wireless access points or mobile phone towers in your defined area.

3. Automatically upload information on the location of these devices to a central server.

4. Use that information along with everyone else’s to identify where you currently are, based upon a database of known WiFi access points or mobile tower locations.

5. If you’re technically oriented, ‘wire’ this up to your normal mapping s/w instead of using a GPS receiver (useful for indoors, areas of poor GPS reception or if you don’t have a GPS receiver)

OK, so that’s more than 25 words but who ever could meet that limit and still make sense anyway! 🙂

For a more literate description, Navizon have quite a detailed technical overview.

Update 15/02/2006: I note that Optus now also offer their FindA service for $0.55c per 20 minutes usage.