Challenging Google at anything demands confidence. The folks behind OpenStreetMap appear to have that quality in abundance. Maybe that’s why there are rumblings that the eight-year-old OpenStreetMap is poised to become the most-used map service on the web.

Like Google Maps, OpenStreetMap is a digital world map, helping users across the globe find out where they are and where they’re going. OpenStreetMap is crowd-sourced – a hot trend these days in the computing world – and free. It’s also becoming increasingly popular. In mid-March, OpenStreetMap boasted nearly 560,000 individual registered users, a remarkable total.

OpenStreetMap’s Growing Popularity

The mapping service also scored an important public-relations victory in early March when Apple switched from using Google Maps to OpenStreetMap in its mobile software for locations outside the United States. And more recently, Apple  dumped Google Maps for its iPhoto service on iOS, Apple’s new photo management app. The new maps on this service are created from OpenStreetMap data. This is probably one of the biggest indications that OpenStreetMap poses a real threat to Google Maps.

Also, a popular social media service, Foursquare, moved to OpenStreetMap earlier this year. You may ask yourself why OpenStreetMap is growing in popularity. One reason is that its members are able to update maps based on their knowledge. The reader’s capacity to edit and adjust articles is what made Wikipedia so popular. Do you think Wikipedia would have become as popular if not for this feature?

Google No Longer Invulnerable?

Taking on Google is usually an unwise decision, but the search giant has recently suffered some defeats. For instance, its Google+ social media service hasn’t yet emerged as a serious rival to either Facebook or LinkedIn. Will OpenStreetMap deal Google another defeat? That’s difficult to tell, but for now it’s clear that OpenStreetMap is making gains and growing in popularity.

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