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Amazon Location Service — Today and Tomorrow

AWS’ entry into the location services space is likely to increase competitiveness within the market, and lead to improvement in data quality and service.

By Pulkit Chaudhary

The Location Intelligence (LI) market has witnessed tremendous growth in the last few years. According to the Location Intelligence Market Report published by Geospatial World, the market is expected to be worth nearly $39 billion by 2022. That’s because multiple sectors, such as healthcare, retail, banking and insurance, supply chain and logistics, real estate, emergency response, and mobility heavily rely on LI for key operations. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the significance of LI has only increased, leading to Amazon Location Service  entering this booming market towards the end of last year.

So, why did AWS get into this space?  REOMNIFY CEO Alex Storey has a logical explanation. “Growing at almost 40%, Amazon had to get into some high growth industries to be able to sustain this kind of growth. This is a challenge that all big technology companies face — figuring out which industries to explore in order to maintain a high revenue base. Amazon has identified Location Intelligence as one of those key industries and wants to grab a significant market share.” 

Sajid Mukhtar

With advancements in information technology and the advent of cheaper and smaller sensors, UAVs have become the ‘go to’ solution for all surveyors and mappers

Sajid Mukhtar

Chairman & Managing Director, Roter Group of Companies.

Impact on business

For end-users, consultants and developers who want to integrate location-based services into web and mobile apps, Amazon Location Service provides them the option to look beyond the two market leaders — Google and Microsoft — who have been dominating the location services segment for the last decade. “AWS entering the location services space is not only going to increase the competitiveness but also lead to improvement in data quality and service,” says Mayank Singh, Head of Marketing, Technology and Digital Business at Domino’s Pizza Indonesia.

Several market players feel that the quality of data will play a key role in business decisions. For instance, Joe Francica, Senior Director, Geospatial Strategy at Korem, says, “If our clients are already using location services from a company like Google, we will continue to work within their environment until we see that there is a real difference in the data quality offered by another company. That would be the primary reason for us to explore Amazon Location. We are a value-added reseller of both Google and HERE Technologies, and our decision to add a new partner is largely influenced by our clients’ needs and what we see in terms of unique value to our services.”

For the LI market, Amazon can play an important role in standardizing data and bringing it all at one place. “As a data provider, I see us having an interesting potential relationship with Amazon. AWS could lead to greater adoption of location services for a wider range of applications, thus improving market conditions for all location data providers. So, we see it as a very positive sign,” adds Storey.

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Comparison with Google

The end-users of LI  have found immense value in location-based services and are consistently increasing their use. Simultaneously, the LI market players are innovating and working on providing better features and capabilities. With the entry of Amazon Location Service, a comparison with Google is bound to happen, and it suggests that in terms of cost, privacy concerns and scalability, AWS is giving strong competition to Google. “From the pricing standpoint, AWS is more cost-effective in the location services business, though there are other services in which Google offers better cost. Privacy is an interesting point of comparison, as both the companies have to comply with CCPA and GDPR, along with all the other privacy regulations,” opines CITYDATA.ai CEO Apurva Kumar.

In terms of scalability, Amazon and Google seem to be equals. Both offer top-notch Cloud services with the ability to scale horizontally. “The ability to create rich applications is a function of features and APIs, and this is something AWS can build upon  in-house. So, if AWS is relying on ESRI and HERE and does not have its core platform and services built in-house, except for geofencing services, it will be a step behind Google. If you go through Google Maps and Google Places, there are hundreds of different things you could do. Therefore, the richness of the location apps that you can build with Google probably outshines Amazon Location at this point in time, but that could change rapidly as Amazon Location Service continues to evolve,” adds Kumar.

Amazon Location Service in future

In comparison to its competitors, the number of APIs that are available on Amazon Location Service is comparatively less. In the near future, this could well be the focal point for AWS to retain its existing customers and expand its base.“If I was in their shoes, the newly added APIs is something that I could easily sell to a majority of my existing customers. So, I would expect that they would add more services over time. A lot of their decisions are going to be driven by their customer base,” explains Matt Forrest, Carto’s Director of Spatial Data Science.

Amazon’s strategic partnerships aren’t always easy to comprehend. Moving forward, it would be interesting to see how the company’s tie-up with Esri and HERE  Technologies to launch Amazon Location turns out. “AWS settled on the path of launching Amazon Location through strategic partnerships. It makes sense if you want to launch your location service while you build out your core mapping platform. HERE is probably supplying data to AWS, while ESRI is providing its mapping services. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for AWS and if it ends up launching an in-house mapping service like Google, Microsoft and Apple. I think that’s where AWS will go. As of today, we see Amazon Location Serviceas a location services marketplace, while AWS Data Exchange is a spatial and non-spatial data marketplace,” concludes Kumar. 

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