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Add-On Products for MapPoint 2000

"Helper" products enroute will include utilities, data, tutorials, and programming tools

April 17, 1999 - Now that Microsoft has announced a firm ship date for MapPoint 2000, we expect to see a series of press releases about add-on products. These products will be designed to make MapPoint easier, more powerful, and more adaptable; in addition, industry-specific packages will be offered based on the MapPoint engine.

No matter how well Product Planner John Betz and his development team implemented MapPont, some tasks will turn out to be more difficult to accomplish than others. No matter how extensive and accurate the focus group testing, MapPoint will turn out to appeal to some large, hitherto-unexpected audience. Packed as it is with maps and demographic data, thousands of users will want more. And as soon as the product hits the marketplace, more functionality will be demanded.

More Data
MapPoint 2000 ships with a set of 74 demographic variables for national and local levels of geography in the United States, and 11 for the countries of the world (detailed listing). Users will want much more, and soon. And since MapPoint is very facile at importing and linking to data in either Access or Excel, data vendors should be quick-to-market with add-on data sets tailored to MapPoint.

We expect to see the major data vendors such as CACI, Claritas, and National Decision Systems to soon be packaging MapPoint-ready data such as:

  • consumer behavior & purchasing patterns
  • customer segmentation & lifestyle cluster coding
  • more extensive core demographics (Census based)
  • industry-specific data such as bank lending behavior, risk data (floods, earthquakes, crime) for the insurance industry, and so forth
These products will surely be delivered with software wizards that make marrying this data with MapPoint a breeze.

Making it Easier
Expect soon to see books, tutorial CD's, and software utilities designed to make MapPoint 2000 easier to use. Although MapPoint benefits enormously from its integration with Microsoft Office, making maps has not heretofore been a part of the typical manager's or office worker's duty, and the task is often not as easy to accomplish as it might seem. Manifold Net has already released a product to ease the importing of data into MapPoint. Any bets on how soon we'll see "MapPoint for Dummies?"

More Power, More Flexibility
Perhaps the most exciting products enroute are those designed to extend the functionality of MapPoint, and to make it more amenable to being embedded in MapPoint-powered applications. As we speak, developers are at work writing modules that will extend MapPoint's feature set. Some of these will find their way into add-in products promoted to end-users. Another class of products will be developer tools, marketed to the huge Visual Basic developer community.

We will have more to say shortly about the functionality MapPoint exposes to developers. Regardless, more will be wanted. Companies with experience and depth in the geographic tools marketplace, such as Blue Marble Geographics, will surely work to energize a robust MapPoint Applications marketplace.

Vertical Markets
We made mention above of industry-specific MapPoint data sets that will be forthcoming. It will make sense to extend this principle to self-contained products. For instance, vendors serving the banking community might package a CD containing MapPoint 2000, banking data for a single state, and wizards to produce federally-mandated compliance reports. And surely someone will create a bundle for realtors, easing the integration of their work with MapPoint.

Our crystal ball is probably no less foggy than yours. Tell us what you think is coming.

Discuss this story in the forum.

Author: Scott Elliott
Email: scott.elliott(AT)directionsmag.com
URL: http://www.directionsmag.com
Scott Elliott enjoys Amis, Ellison, Ford, Hardy, Percy, Tolstoy, Turgenev and some living writers. He is Publisher of Directions and MP2K magazines.



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