Bing Maps backs, but doesn’t use, OpenStreetMap

osm map appYesterday, PC World posted on what’s looking like a cozy relationship between Microsoft and OpenStreetMap, an open source mapping project that has been in the news lately as a number of companies, including FourSquare and Apple, are switching away from Google Maps (and more specifically, from Google’s new policy of charging for API access to their mapping data).

As you know, we’ve been following Bing Maps for a long time, and one line in the post took us by surprise, “Bing also uses OpenStreetMap data for its mapping service”, especially since there was a little flurry about Apple’s use of Open Street Map data without attribution in the new version of its iPhoto app.  So we checked around a bit, and after noting that OSM is not listed in the Bing Maps list of data suppliers, we received confirmation from a Microsoft spokesperson that “Bing Maps does NOT use OSM data”.

We’re guessing that some of the confusion could have come from a Bing Map App, announced in a blog post on the Bing Maps blog in August 2010, that layered OSM data on top of Bing Maps.  That Map App, simply called OpenStreetMap, does not appear in the current listing of Map Apps, and the link provided in the blog post doesn’t work, either.

Now there’s no question that Microsoft is very interested luring users and developers away from using Google Maps and Google Map APIs as much as possible, and it’s just a point of order that Microsoft isn’t using OSM data.  With the founder of OSM, Steve Coast, now working for Microsoft as Principal Architect of Bing Mobile, Bing Maps use of OSM could conceivably even change in the future.

We’re far more interested to see how the relationship between Bing Maps and Nokia’s Navteq unfolds, to be honest.  Navteq is Bing Maps main source of data, and the two companies have hinted at closer collaboration on mapping and location services in the future, but we haven’t heard much, yet, about how a combination of Bing Maps, Navteq, and even OSM will evolve.  They will be certainly gunning for Google Maps, in any event.