Telenav acquires Skobbler to get its hands on crowd-sourced mapping expertise

Telenav plans to offer its Scout navigation app with OpenStreetMap to much of the world

Telenav has acquired German company Skobbler in an effort to improve its navigation offerings using the crowd-sourced and open-sourced OpenStreetMap (OSM) project.

The acquisition closed on Jan. 29 and Telenav paid about US$19 million in cash and another $4.6 million of common stock. With the purchase, Telenav can improve its own products and become a bigger contributor to the underlying map technology, the company said on Thursday,

Telenav expects that all Skobbler employees will join Telenav as part of its OSM team, adding software expertise in location-based services, navigation and mapping. OSM founder Steve Coast also joined the company last year.

OSM is the only crowd-sourced and open-sourced map of the globe and, for many developers, it has with 1.5 million registered editors become a clear alternative to Google Maps, according to Telenav.

Google has also realized the importance of crowd-sourced mapping data, and acquired Waze last year to improve its own mapping data with community-based traffic and navigation information.

"Waze and Google -- or, just Google now -- provide similar mechanisms to improve their maps, based mostly on OSM's innovations. With one big catch. It is very much their map. Not yours," Coast said in a blog post.

All of the data contributed is to OSM is openly available. So, anyone can download, experiment and play with it freely. The data isn't locked up beyond anyone's reach, according to Coast.

Telenav plans to offer its Scout navigation app with OSM for much of the world. It has already made significant headway toward this goal in the U.S. by using OSM for the HTML5 version of Scout, it said.

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