Space Imaging Sale, Microsoft Updates Online Mapping and More

By Adena Schutzberg

Galileo Bidder Choice Delayed
Officials can't decide between the two European groups bidding to run the Galileo satellite positioning system.Galileo Joint Undertaking, who will ultimately make the decision, has given itself three more months to study the problem, and entice the players to add to their bids.A decision is expected in June.The group said it could not distinguish technically between the two bids.That leads some to believe politics, not commercial interest, may slow the project down.Others suspect that in the end a mix of companies from the two teams will ultimately perform the work.The first team bidding is the iNavSat consortium of Thales, the French defense electronics company, Inmarsat of the UK and EADS, the Franco-German group, the main shareholder in Airbus.The second team, Eurely, includes Alcatel (France) and the Italian group Finmeccanica, along with Spain's Aena and Hispasat.

Sanborn Acquires Space Imaging's North American Federal Civilian and Commercial Solutions Business Unit
This announcement has a bit of déjà vu all over again to it.And, well it should.Recall that last September this same unit was to be acquired by Geo360, John Grizz Deal's company.That agreement fell through.(Deal, once CEO of LizardTech, served as Space Imaging's Chief Marketing Officer in 2002.) But clearly, Space Imaging was still interested in divesting itself of the unit and Sanborn stepped up to take on the 45 staffers.The details of the sale were not disclosed.To fully appreciate this transaction, recall that current Sanborn CEO John Copple was the CEO of Space Imaging (from 1995-2003) during which time the unit in question (once Pacific Meridian) was acquired.How's that for full circle? The Rocky Mountain News reports that the sale will drop Space Imaging's staff to between 180 and 200.

Microsoft Bucks Up in Face of Map Portal Competition
With all the buzz surrounding consumer mapping portals Microsoft announced enhancements to its MSN Maps and Directions, the portal I still think of as MapPoint.Microsoft certainly beats Google on coverage with 11 countries including Australia, Belgium and Spain mappable.BrandFinder lets searchers find businesses near a mapped location or along a route, a nice touch.

Users can now link to a MapPoint map, or provide directions on their own websites, by copying a URL.(Gory details here.) And, in what seems a rather funny thing to tout, Microsoft claims to be the only free mapping portal where you can paste an entire address in one field and have it mapped.In other products you must "parse" the address into separate fields.I tried it.I wrote out my address in one line: 0 my street, my town, my state, my ZIP Code.MapPoint came back and said it matched my ZIP Code.Google Maps mapped it right to the house location.Apparently, Microsoft wants the address "parsed" this way, the way it'd be stored in your Outlook address book:

0 my street
my town
my state
my zip

Digital Envoy and Whereonearth Partner to Revolutionize the Delivery of Local Search and Online Advertising
Digital Envoy is one of a few companies that can identify the physical location of a Web surfer.That's valuable if want to send that user targeted ads.The challenge is you need to work with a separate ad vendor to get the right ads delivered.That's what Whereonearth does.It has tools to "geocode" ads, identifies searches as geographic, finds "neighboring locations," and allows advertisers to target specific ZIP Codes, area codes and other "non-traditional" geographic regions.So, it's no big surprise the two companies have partnered.What's happening in this microcosm is what's going on in location-based services in general.There are too many pieces for the average LBS provider to sort out and plug together.The players themselves need to partner and bring a unified solution to the table.Said another way, just knowing the location of a cell phone does not a location-based service make.

Published Monday, March 7th, 2005

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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