GeoCarta Has Moved

Jan 30, 2006

If Maps Are Free Who Will Pay The Mapmakers?

With the increasing popularity of free, web-based mapping services, National Geographic Maps, faced a tough situation. How do you stay in the map business when your competitors are giving away their product?

The Denver Business Journal explains how the Colorado-based company is restructuring to adapt to the changing business climate. The Journal explains that the company realized it could only survive in areas outside the consumer mainstream. So National Geographic Maps is retreating from publishing maps for the general public and is focusing instead on detailed maps targeted for outdoor recreation enthusiasts, emergency responders, geologists and other field workers who often venture out of well-traveled terrain.

The firm, which is a taxable subsidiary of the nonprofit National Geographic Society, now sells about 70% percent its maps through retail outlets such sporting goods stores. It is collaborating with ESRI, on several mapping initiatives aimed at its niche market and is also focusing on updating and digitizing its product to print maps on demand through its Web site.

President Fran Marshall told the Journal that National Geographic Maps is doing "quite well" financially.