Yesterday SimpleGeo announced on its blog that it’s in open beta. Until now only select users could tap into its API and data. And, frankly, I was still a bit hazy on what exactly the company was offering. Now it’s becoming more clear. Having said that, Mashable states that “SimpleGeo is recognized as one of the leading providers of location-based information; it powers consumer-facing apps that want to offer their users location-based services.” So, I guess that organization knows more about it than I. That’s fine and may reflect that SimpleGeo is not positioning itself for the professional geospatial marketplace, but rather the broad developer community.
There are two services coming out of closed beta. The are both now, and are promised to always be, free.
SimpleGeo Context gives developers “relevant contextual information such as geographic boundaries, weather, and demographics for a specific location.” Sources of those data? Not stated on the website.
SimpleGeo Places is an accessible database of POIs including business listing ready for “real-time community collaboration” or what I’d call “updating.” Sources of this data? The original sources are not stated, but this is a new model of POIs: “SimpleGeo Places was built to be the world’s first open, free, and unencumbered exchange of place and point of interest (POI) data. Using proprietary data processes, SimpleGeo Places leverages a mixture of crowdsourcing and automation technologies to clean, update, and validate place data that our community creates in real-time.” What community? I imagine users of services developed via the API/dataset.
Can these freebies bring in money? Perhaps. SimpleGeo is happy to offer SLAs and Premium Support for unnamed fees.
The company’s for free service, SimpleGeo Storage, is now moving to private beta for some part of the first half of 2011. It’s a storage/indexing/hosting option with access via HTTP. SimpleGeo uses Cassandra, a NoSQL database for this and I believe the other services backend.
So, are SimpleGeo’s offerings revolutionary? Is it indeed so much easier than tapping to the Google or Bing or other APIs? Is the access faster? The data “better”? Stay tuned as for now there’s more hype than documentation on those questions.
It’s worth noting that the same day this announcement came out Factual another data as a service type company announce $25 million in funding. Oh, and that company already powers Facebook Places with location data. The difference in business plan: ” At some point in the future, Factual plans to charge companies a nominal fee per API call though it will cut or reduce fees for companies that contribute back data. Smaller customers below a specific threshold will not have to pay.”