What is Endoxon? It’s a Swiss “Internet mapping solutions company”, as Google describes it. Endoxon’s website has been replaced with a page with some more details. For example:
Why is Google acquiring Endoxon?
Endoxon’s assets and its European network bolster engineering and technical resources for Google. This acquisition of Endoxon will enable us to leverage their analysis capabilities and will help us build out and improve the functionality of Google Earth and Google Maps across Europe.
Why did Google acquire only three of Endoxon’s six business units?
Google acquired Endoxon’s internet, mapping and data processing business units. Unlike the others, these complement Google Earth and Google Maps technologies and services.
“The others” are Data, Cartography and Direct Marketing, which are being spun off into another company, Mappuls.
What did Endoxon’s website say up until yesterday? Google’s cache doesn’t have it, which is why it’s always good to have some competition. From MSN’s cache, here is how Endoxon presented itself until recently:
Since 1988 Endoxon AG has impressed with ground-breaking solutions for data, cartography, the Internet and mobile communication. Endoxon AG not only offers a platform for every conceivable geographic need but also has positioned itself as the market leader in the development of the cutting-edge technology thanks to its convincing and successful innovations.
This pioneering enterprise is responsible for the first MMS service and the first independent mobile portal in Switzerland for SMS, MMS, WAP and WEB. And also created another landmark for the Swiss Museum of Communication and Transport: Swissarena, the l argest aerial photograph of Switzerland and the nation’s second largest depiction after the country itself.
The name Endoxon stands for quality, creativity, and innovation strength around the world.
I also emailed a Geneva-based friend up on Swiss tech companies, and here’s how he responded to my question about what all this means:
Looks to me like a body shop for rendering and processing map data into usable applications like map.search.ch. It takes ages, apparently. I don’t think any wow new products are going to come of it straightaway.
The idea of Endoxon being a processing resource for Google fits with Google’s own statement that the acquisition will “bolster engineering and technical resources for Google”.
I first came across Endoxon’s work last year, using map.search.ch, the Swiss Post’s web mapping service for Switzerland, which did all of the niftiest scrolling, zooming, layering and address-searching since the early days, sometimes long before Google Maps and the others were doing it. In that sense they are true innovators. Do check it out, and take note of the ability to turn on layers of points of interest in a way that is very similar to what Google Earth currently does. An indication, perhaps, of how some of Google Earth’s functionality might one day bleed back into Google Maps?
One is left to wonder whether today’s two announcements are related. On one end, Google agrees to organize NASA’s information, which involves close cooperation and more access to data. On the other end, Google beefs up its processing prowess via the acquisition of a Swiss company. In other words, a bastion of geospatial digital analysis and processing expertise is being gathered.
ESRI, are you watching? What if Google ends up doing all the analysis and data storage server-side for us, cheaply? Wouldn’t that put a chink in ESRI’s ArcGIS offerings?
[Update 1006-12-19: Christian Spanring points out that the acquisition now has some of Google's European competitors relying on Google. Sneaky!]