Interview: Tele Atlas talks GPS, LBS, and their Innovator Series

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BBCool: So what are you trying to achieve with your Maps in Apps developer contest and Innovator Series in general?

Darrin Wilkey: What we’re trying to do is not just foster the development of maps and of really neat content, we’re also trying to foster the innovation around applications that utilizes these maps. That’s kind of where we came up with the Innovator Series idea. It’s a constant outreach to developers to help them drive creative thinking, innovation and utilize the entire infrastructure that’s in place. We’re constantly updating our maps, making them more precise, we’re adding different options like 3D imagery – we’re adding specialized content… I’m not sure if you’re familiar with our Content Link program?

BBCool: No, I’m not.

Darrin Wilkey: It’s actually really cool. It’s essentially an online marketplace that brings together specialized content owners with developers who are looking to differentiate their applications. So, you can go to the TeleAtlas.com and there will be a Content Link button across the top nav bar, and you can see some of the content owners that have published content up there. Anything from Wi-Fi hotspot locations throughout the United States to bio-fuel refilling stations, and other business applications and consumer interest points. They’re all kinds of really specialized content that have not been able to get to market in the past. We’re creating this marketplace where developers can go and source that content and get it into their applications. While we’re trying to facilitate this overall marketplace, what we really need are developers to actually take the cool stuff that we have and build it into nice, customer-friendly, easy-to-use applications. That what brings this whole thing together: the developers.

BBCool: They can do things that you guys haven’t even thought of, just by using the resources you’re providing.

Darrin Wilkey: You’re absolutely right. We try to think that we’re creative in our space in bringing these tools and making them available to the developers, but we really look to the collective creativity of the whole developer community to take what we have and make interesting products out of it.

BBCool: Now, do you think it’s necessary for Tele Atlas to offer incentives like Maps in Apps to create application growth in the LBS space? Or do guys just see yourselves as a catalyst? If you weren’t doing this, would it still be happening, or would it just be happening slower?

Darrin Wilkey: It would definitely still be happening, but by offering the incentive and promotion around it, it helps developers prioritize what they’re working on. They’re such a busy community, and there are so many opportunities they could be going after. Part of having a promotion is helping them realize the huge opportunity around location-based services. Having a cash prize at the end is just a capper. We have really deep partnerships throughout the wireless ecosystem, with handset manufacturers like RIM, with wireless carriers. So, not just the prize money is interesting, but hopefully the overall experience of the contest and the other things we can bring to them as well.