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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

GeoAPI now a service by Twitter

December 28, 2009

As you’ve probably read Twitter has acquired Mixer Labs who runs GeoAPI, an API for all things location, and plans to integrate that API and its team directly into Twitter’s offerings.

Brady Forrest for O’Reilly Radar on the possible implications of this acquisition:

“Second, does this herald Twitter’s moves into being a location provider? At Sarver’s previous company they had a location-brokering service called MyLoki that never gained ubiquity. Twitter has the opportunity to become a major location broker. Twitter currently has a very simple on/off switch for location. To become a full-fledged consumer location service (like Latitude or Fire Eagle) they will need to build in more controls.”

Forrest’s use of the term “location broker”, I believe, means that Twitter could become a standard for just about anyone to location-enable their own applications rather than simply geocoding tweets. I think Twitter should do this by keeping GeoAPI “open for business” allowing developers to continue to build products using the API, commit data to it, and improve the API over time.

Forrest asks if Twitter will charge for the use of the GeoAPI like it charges for access to Twitter’s public timeline (or firehouse as they call it) to developers. I think they should charge for the use of this API and they should use the same reasonable pricing model that GeoAPI already had in place. No one should have to pay for the data, but they should have to pay for requesting that data hundreds of thousands of times.

In essence, I believe GeoAPI should stick around. It looks like a fantastic API and I’m looking forward to it being implemented into Twitter’s own API but I think it’d be a good idea to have the service stick around separate from Twitter itself.

Update: After reading the post on the GeoAPI blog about the acquisition by Twitter I realized that they are planning, for now at least, to keep GeoAPI up and running. They said: “We will continue to give new API keys for GeoAPI.com – however there may be some delays in getting keys over the holidays.” Good.