Mapbox and Google: Mapping Out Pros and Cons

November 21, 2017 by Sam Slater

When it comes to building a map for your event space, hospital, resort or campus, there are many components to consider. The first one usually being, “How?” unless you are a cartographer. However, for creating maps there is a range from being built completely internally to using a combination of external resources and companies. When you choose to build in-house, there are multiple sources of geospatial data to choose from. You’ll probably start at the two biggest players, Mapbox and Google.

Mapbox recently received $164 million in funding to continue the growth of its open source location-based platform. As more and more products rely on geospatial data, the demand for easy to use maps continues to rise. Mapbox’s clients include major companies such as Snapchat, The Weather Channel, IBM, and many more. Both Google and Mapbox provide powerful platforms for graphic designers and developers to build interactive and innovative map software but what is the difference?

Mapbox giving Google a run for its money?

 As Mapbox’s platform continues to grow, so does its software features and capabilities. Mapbox has continued to provide solid geospatial data through Open Street Maps (OSM) that allows designers to focus on customization and UI. While Mapbox lets developers focus on programming. Mapbox has its Mapbox Studio for designers and its roots as an Open Source platform form a natural fit for developers. Google’s geospatial data builds on the same infrastructure as Google Maps but developers and designers are restricted to customize and build only within Google’s framework. Google Maps’ reach definitely global while Mapbox offers developers and designers the option and flexibility to create and add features to fit their needs.

 

Price

Mapbox/OSM is the economical option coming in at half the price of Google Maps API. Google has continued to deliver high quality products however, for the price tag you are mainly purchasing brand recognition.

Feedback and Engagement

 Google and Mapbox rely heavily on user feedback for updates and improvements. Since Mapbox is Open Source with a community supporting enhancements as well as an internal team. Mapbox also has a symbiotic relationship with OSM and can make changes to the underlying OSM data in 48 hours.  

But what if I am not a developer or designer?

At concept3D, we offer both Google and Mapbox as the base for our interactive maps and 3D renderings. Google Maps does have street view but our 360° Panoramas offer a better solution for our Mapbox clients. The majority of our maps utilize Mapbox/OSM software as it allows us greater flexibility and creativity when building interactive 3D maps. Mapbox GL and Mapbox Studio allow complete design and data control so we can easily add or take away any feature that doesn’t fit. Mapbox/OSM data also provides the ability to update and improve our maps with new ideas and features as soon as they arrive.

 Whether its Google or Mapbox, both products can provide you with the tools needed to create an innovative and interactive map. Or if you do not have the time or resources to build internally concept3D is happy to help fill the gap.

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