Whether or not Google Map is able to be operating in China is still a question. If it’s out, we would be desperately looking for a new map solution, I mean, a good replacement. However, it seems that we don’t need worry about it anymore, because deCarta is here and it has seriously started promoting its powerful map API to Chinese developers. At the NAVTEQ developer day organized by GreatWallClub, I had the pleasure of talking to Mr. Michael Cottle, Vice President of deCarta, who shared with me deCarta’s understanding of map service.

Google Map were powered by deCarta

Reads from deCarta’s official site, it says,

deCarta is the leading, independent enabler of location-based services. Building on 12 years of development, deCarta provides software and services that can add mapping, routing and local search functionality to its customers’ services. deCarta’s technology has been proven by some of the biggest and most demanding customers in the world, establishing our reputation for scalability and performance. And our business model is based on making our customers successful, which means letting those brands take center stage.

Be honest, I felt quite embarrassing as deCarta have had 12 years of development on mapping-related service worldwide but my knowledge about it was almost zero. “When Google launched its map service in 2005, it’s actually using deCarta’s service at backend.” Michael said, “Google was using our technology for 3 years until 2008 when it got its own map solution.”

Developer.deCarta.com

deCarta has its office set up in Shanghai for about 3 years, but as Michael said, it’s the first time deCarta steps out to meet Chinese developers. “~60% of mobile applications are using location service, and definitely China has a massive need either for enterprise or for consumers. We don’t want to miss the opportunity.” Michael told me, “In 2011, we will be focusing on 2 things in Chinese market: continue localizing our map service in China and promote deCarta’s map API to Chinese developers.”

On developer.deCarta.com, DeCarta offers a full package of its map API for almost all the mobile system including Mobile Javascript, iOS, Android, Bada, J2ME etc, and developers are free to apply for it.

As Michael introduced, deCarta map API not only provides basic functions like Google Map does but also includes useful functions such as routing, local search, reverse geo-coding etc. “Android map-related API provides 76 object class, iOS has 22 object class but deCarta API has over 300 object class.” Michael said.

What if Google Map is out of China

What if Google Map is out of China? I asked Michael. “Then we will be the only licensed map solution provider which offers full function of API in China” Michael smiled.

About monetization of the map service, Michael explained, “Right now, the API is free as long as the number of request per user does not exceed 1 million times. If it exceeds 1 million requests, we will charge for the extra usage or share the revenue from ads displayed on the map.”

deCarta allows its partners to white-label its map solution. It has partnered with Samsung to offer map applications on its bada smartphone platform, and with Opera browser to bring maps, local search and direction service on mobile browser. In China, it has partnered with Dianxin mobile OS from Innovation Works, which is definitely good start for deCarta.

Map is such a key part for location-based service. I hope that Google Map will stay in China, but it’s always good to have an alternative so that more interesting location-based applications could be triggered.