One Man’s Disruptor is Another Man’s Incumbent


Andrew Turner is looking for a few companies to follow him that might actually stick around for more than a year

I started to respond to this blog post on All Points Blog about a GigaOm article on API disruption, but I think I’d rather take more time and talk about it on my blog. Taking a look at that chart you can quickly see you can disagree with almost anything on it both ways. This is how I’d list incumbents and disruptors in the GIS/Mapping API space as I see it.


  • Google Maps: Show me another GIS/Mapping API out there that has such broad support.
  • Mapquest: They wish they were a disruptor, but I still see too many websites using their old APIs to say they aren’t an incumbent. Plus my grandmother swears by their maps.
  • Esri: From their legacy web mapping applications and APIs, they are still well supported in the government space. Clearly they are on this list.
  • Microsoft: Bing Maps API is used by more websites than any other API other than Google.


  • MapBox: Are you kidding me here? How are they not on that list. All the disruption I’ve seen in the past 6 months has been by them.
  • Esri: Transition to ArcGIS Online has been slow, but you got to figure this will again be well supported by governments. Probably more disruption toward “Incumbent Esri” than the others though.
  • Apple: Only in the sense that I suspect their Mapping APIs will be well supported on their platforms. That means less use of Google Maps API on iOS and OS X.

Now what about the two that GigaOm listed that I didn’t. First off Trimble, if they have APIs that are being used I’m not really aware of them outside of a couple niches. I wouldn’t call that incumbent. Now I do think Trimble is trying to be disruptive so maybe in the next year we’ll see them show up there given their move into more consumer mapping. As for CloudMade, I’ll be honest and say I haven’t heard much from them lately other than Leaflet. It could be those in the Valley know more than I about them so I guess they could be disruptive. From where I sit though, I’d say MapBox is the new Cloudmade.


Seems right to me, doesn’t it?

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