It’s Hard to Compete with Free

  1. Companies are providing increasingly powerful software viewers as a way to sell more of their products and/or services.
  2. Specific links are provided.
  3. It will be interesting to see where this trend is going to lead.

In the late 1990’s I used to make a living as a reseller of USGS digital topo maps – the DRG’s, and I was not the only one. Companies such as Land Info and MapTech were built on the digital map business.

Enter the Internet. Soon, online companies like TopoZone, MapQuest and others began to offer free viewing of the data that we were charging for. Most of the value of a map comes from the ability to view it. Why own it when you can view it for free?

Slowly but surely a similar game plan is starting to emerge in the laser scanning marketplace. Led by the aerial mapping firms, for now, they are offering customers free data viewers. Merrick has their Mars Viewer ; Virtual Geomatics has their VG4D 3D Viewer ; and now Fugro Geospatial has just announced FugroViewer . The latter includes a rich set of functionality.

Merrick and Fugro are in the data collection business. That is how they can afford to provide software at no cost. Virtual Geomatics and Merrick provide a free viewer as an enticement to purchase their more sophisticated versions. Leica claims tremendous success with their free TruView web-enabled point cloud viewer.

It will be interesting to see where this leads.

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