Over the past few years, a number of Microsoft Corp. partners with logistics knowhow—such as Geotab/Fast Track Technologies Inc., Iteration2, Complete Innovations, and Baka Trak-IT Inc.—have been building new revenue streams by integrating Microsofts mapping software with their own applications and either MapPoint Location Server or outside GPS.
Embodied in the recently rolled out MapPoint Fleet Edition 2004, Microsofts licensing changes let partners and end customers pay for MapPoint on a per-PC basis, in place of the older method that also entailed payment for each vehicle tracked, said Trina Seinfeld, Microsofts lead product manager for MapPoint, in an interview with Channel Insider.
In a series of other interviews, industry analysts and Microsoft partners generally agreed that by bringing down overall licensing fees the move will help systems integrators sell MapPoint-based solutions to more customers.
"MapPoint is a great solution, and a fairly cost-effective way of getting a GIS [geographic information system] type of functionality, if you want to see on a map where your deliverers and couriers are located, for example," said Peter Pawlak, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft.
"But there was some little gotcha in the old licensing terms that said customers had to buy a separate license for every tracked vehicle. I think that this [new] licensing model makes more sense for any company with a fleet beyond just three or four cars or trucks."
"The power and strength of MapPoint have been underappreciated," said Colin Sutherland, director of sales and marketing at Geotab, in another interview.
"Technically speaking, MapPoint Fleet Edition is the same thing as the [previously released] MapPoint 2004. But I think this new [pricing model] will help raise awareness among businesses operating field-force or asset-management applications that they should look at MapPoint," Sutherland said.
Seinfeld said Microsoft decided to offer the new edition based on requests from both partners and end customers for PC-based pricing. But she also acknowledged that Microsoft stands to gain if the installed base of MapPoint users starts to extend use of the mapping software into new application areas.