At rollout, Placebase will offer Pushpin LE with TIGER data for a starting price of $1,600 for 150,000 transactions/month; enhanced data from NAVTEQ cost a bit more. Imagery and other datasets are on tap for future releases, along with enhanced functionality, as demanded by customers. The data, in pre-rendered tiles, are held in PlaceBase's server farm. The raw data are stored in shape files, ArcSDE or PostGIS environments.
I asked Jaron Waldman, CEO of Placebase, how close the Pushpin LE API is to Google Maps. "They are not exactly the same, but a few tweaks of an existing application will have it up and running on Pushpin LE in a very short time." That plays into one segment of the market Placebase seeks to serve: those who have built "hobbyist" sorts of applications that they want to offer for commercial use. The other early adopter group is likely to be corporate users who want intranet applications with the look and feel of Google Maps, their own corporate branding and no distracting advertising. Its worth noting that this week Google is again testing ads on Google Local, leading many to speculate that such ads are coming to the Google Maps API very soon. Google has from the start reserved the right to add advertisement to its mapping environment at any point.
Placebase may be new to many who work in the geospatial arena, but the company is not new to Web mapping. The consulting organization traces its roots in Web mapping back to 2001, when it first worked on integrating mapping into its clients' websites. Placebase learned quite a lot from its work with the Fannie Mae Foundation, on DataPlace, which I lauded when I first saw it last year. "At some point," says Waldman, "that sort of advanced functionality will be in the API of Pushpin."
Placebase is offering a unique set of services. The challenge it faces is in keeping up with high expectations that Google Maps has set regarding data availability, data updates, uptime and ease of use for both developers and end-users.