Interview: Multimap’s Sean Phelan on the Company’s Latest API Release
Directions Magazine asked questions of Sean
Phelan, founder of Multimap, about the company's latest version of its
Directions Magazine (DM): In Multimap's May
2 press release, you make the claim that "The Multimap API v.
1.2 breaks new ground in bringing together searching, routing,
mapping, geocoding, and Points of Interest (POI) data and imagery
into a single one-stop service." Can you address exactly what's new in
this version, and specifically describe the "new ground"?
Sean Phelan (SP): Multimap's API v. 1.2 introduced comprehensive
support for routing, spatial searching and local information, as well
as major enhancements to our existing mapping and geocoding
The Multimap API gives developers access to all our "best-of-breed"
mapping and location services, and highly interactive end-user
functionality including maps that are fully draggable, enabling users
to navigate maps without waiting for their page to refresh. The
functionality enhances both the user experience and the appearance of
DM: What's the business model for the API? How do you make
money with it?
SP: The Multimap API is available for free trial, and is backed up
by our customer support to help customers build their solutions, even
during this trial period. Once a customer decides to make his solution
available, the Multimap API is available at a very competitive price
that we believe offers genuine value.
We very much welcome the arrival of free APIs to the world of location.
They have helped raise awareness of the business that we have all been
a part of, and rekindled people's interest in mapping. Rather than lose
business to the free APIs, Multimap has actually benefited.
DM: What kinds of organizations are accessing the service and what
kinds of apps are being built?
SP: There's a real variety of customers using our technology
around the world. Multimap has always been very strong in retail,
property, travel, automotive, directories and local government
sectors, and these organizations are building some highly
innovative solutions such as store locators and property finders. There
are also some fascinating solutions that we never imagined our
technology would be used for, such as a hand-held traffic incident
system for the police force in Malaysia, and an exciting
community-based local history project we're involved with in Great
DM: Is Multimap providing the service of creating applications using
SP: Absolutely. Many customers use our Professional Services team
either as an alternative to, or a complement to, their existing
development teams. We've been proud to be involved in some very
high profile projects, such as the mapping services on yell.com, and our
continuing relationship with clients such as these illustrates the high
regard with which we are held.
DM: You're also offering services based on Microsoft's MapPoint
Web Service. (From the Multimap site: "The
MapPoint services complement Multimap's own services, and provide
customers who are already working with MapPoint with a
straightforward path to integrating Microsoft's mapping with Multimap's
industry-leading customer service and support.") How does that work out
with offering your API?
SP: A fundamental part of the Multimap philosophy is that the
solution must always come first, and the technology comes after. This
agnostic approach is an important part of how we put our products
together, combining best-of-breed services from partners such as
Microsoft with Multimap's own technology. This approach allows us to
source content and functionality that are appropriate to customer
requirements, and make the solution available to customers through a
single, integrated API.