Monday, September 17, 2012

Amazon announces its own Mapping API

Following the footsteps of Apple in building own mapping services, Amazon today announced beta version of its own mapping API for the developer community. This move is in line with Amazon's strategy of distancing itself from Google. It must be noted that though Amazon's Kindle Fire devices run heavily customized version of Android, it never contained Google Maps. Also Amazon runs a parallel app store in place of Google Play store for its users.
Amazon Maps API Signup Page

Amazon assures developer community that this new API provides a simple migration path for those who are already using the native Google Maps API on Android. The blog post also talks about two core features about the API:
  •  Interactive Maps. You can embed a Map View in your app for customers to pan, zoom and fling around the world. You have the option to display a user’s current location, switch between standard maps and satellite view, and more.
  •  Custom Overlays. You can display the locations of businesses, landmarks and other points of interest with your own customized markers and pins.
One interesting fact brought out by Mashable here is,
....neither the original Kindle Fire nor its upcoming Kindle Fire HD have GPS capabilities, though many will be able to take advantage of location services using a Wi-Fi connection.
In developed nations Wi-Fi can be leveraged very well, but when it comes to other countries where Wi-Fi networks are sparse, mapping which relies on Wi-Fi networks would be far more worthless. 

Amazon is steadily growing its ad-revenue stream through different means - first it was with screensavers on Kindle e-readers and now with mapping solutions the ads can be more target oriented, location based ads. Right from Google to Facebook to Apple to Amazon everyone is interested in getting their own pie with location based solutions. As always customer can be the king as he has every right to prefer one over another.