Some people are working on it http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Mapillary ;)
(but yes right now not an alternative)
If anybody comes close, it'd probably be one of the big mapping companies. An armchair OSM contributor can map out a whole city without leaving the desk, but street-level imagery requires systematically visiting each street.
* Full access to all my accounts, and ability to set passwords
* Read my entire USB storage
* Record all activity on my device
hmm, something is weird there. It doesn't say how often the 600k hit their site, but presumably that's per month ("We have hundreds of thousands of hits per month"). Google Maps allows 25k map loads per day for free, which is already 750k for a 30 day month.
Even if you allow for overages that would cost money, it still doesn't add up. If you double that to 1.2 million per month, that's $12.50 a day, or $375 a month, which is still under the $499 a month Mapbox "Premium" Plan (which only gets you 1 million loads per month).
And that's not even touching enterprise pricing, which presumably has a discount for volume (it's really dumb that gogole doesn't publish those enterprise prices though).
I think Google's enterprise pricing was targeted towards, say, a long-haul trucking company or a corporate GIS department where the viewers are just some managerial or analyst staff. In cases like that, if they charged the same rates as they did for CraigsPinSquare, they'd make a few pennies. Thus, the solution would be to discriminate pricing between high-volume consumer-facing usage and low-volume internal "enterprise" usage, especially since internal "enterprise" usage wouldn't give Google Maps much publicity.
Google decided that we fell in the "enterprise" bucket, and enterprise sales typically involves private negotiations with pricing. It's very possible that we got wildly different pricing than other companies.
We're still open to using Google products in general, but OSM is more fun.
I've been involved in negotiations with Google for their mapping service. I can't give specifics, but will say we settled on another commercial service that was two orders of magnitude cheaper for our use case.
(In our case OSM wasn't a viable option, as mapping data in my country is very poor).
Google is much better when it comes to both places and addresses, but OpenStreetMap is improving rapidly and you can get great coverage in most big cities. Also in theory you could source the POI data from some other place and overlay that on top of OSM street data.
Google used to be much better in terms of ease of use, but with players like MapBox that has changed dramatically. Its so pleasant these days to use OSM to make a mapping product -- try out cartodb.com or mapbox.com just for kicks.
And the big plus of OSM of course is that you can pick and choose what data you want to render, what you want to do with it (my fav new example is this scooter routing engine that takes into account the hills in SF while routing --> https://www.mapbox.com/blog/launching-smart-directions/)
As for "hard data" -- here are a couple of studies that compare OSM with private map providers
For example, many cities in OSM have virtually perfect address geocoding because some random person pestered their local government to openly release a dump of addresses and their coordinates, whereas Google is just guessing at house numbers.
Then there was a small analysis in Germany in 2012, but obviously a lot has changed since then.
http://www.mdpi.com/1999-5903/4/1/1 (Or just have a look at the images on the German article: http://neis-one.org/2012/01/osm-germany-2007-2011/)
The most notable difference in terms of quality that I have personally noticed is that the geocoding on the OSM side of things is of wildly variable. The Cloudmade v1 Geocoding API was simpler and returned better results that the Cloudmade v2 API, but the data returned in v1 had less detail that the data returned in v2.
Mapquest offer a licensed data geocode and an open data geocode. The licensed data geocode, as you would expect, returns better results than the open data geocode but still fell short of both the ease of use and accuracy of the v1 Cloudmade geocode.
The kicker in all of this is that Cloudmade recently changed the way they choose to do business. That meant that my internal application wouldn't generate enough hits to the the Cloudmade servers to continue to keep the account open. We were literally in a situation of wanting to throw a small chunk of money at Cloudmade but because we couldn't meet a seemingly arbitrary lower limit we couldn't, abandoned Cloudmade and moved everything across to Mapquest.
Also I'd just like to call out that Leaflet.js is a fantastic library to use and allows us to do everything we want to do to the maps with an absolute minimum of fuss. We are looking at adding internal floor plans to some of the maps and I managed to throw together a PoC in leaflet.js that is looking like it would easily support this with a minimum of fuss.
If you just want to display a vague map of a major metropolitan area it's ok. But as soon as you need to actually find an address, you're out of luck.
Especially Germany and the U.K., but there are other active communities.
Also, in the U.S., the Nominatim instance setup on openstreetmap.org mostly falls back to address range data imported from Tiger. That data isn't really part of OSM. It gives great coverage, but there are some limits to the accuracy.
But the internet is global. It might work correctly for you when testing, but somebody in another country finds your app utterly useless.
Even if Google Maps has worse data for some areas than OSM, globally it's far more consistent.
Given that there's far, far cheaper options for mapping than Google while still providing excellent data (ArcGIS comes to mind), if you're building a commercial product with an international market in mind you're still better off using a commercial GIS solution
This appears to be based on a misunderstanding; the OSM project isn't an app released by a company, instead it's a global community creating a map dataset, somewhat similar to Wikipedia.
If the data in your country or local area isn't good, then please consider becoming a contributor to OSM and edit the map. By making the OSM better, you can help solve those consistency problems and improve the experience for the growing number of people who are using it - whether directly or via companies like DoubleMap.
Being a contributor is nice and fuzzy, but not a commercially viable option. If my customer says "I can't find this town on the map", I'm hardly going to tell them to drive out and map it themselves.
Who knows what will happen in Australia, but a thing I see happening in the U.S. is people starting to use OSM for whatever and then investing effort in fixing their immediate problems. So there is some sort of hand wavy tipping point that has been reached.
And when it comes to websites there are even more of those.
Not to mention that more and more apps use data that only OSM provides.
The OSM is really important project. Like Wikipedia or GNU in the older days, maybe even more. And like everything open-source, community-driven, it's strongly dependent on how many people use it. Because, obviously, you are more likely to be wishing to contribute if you are using it yourself and, preferably, depend on your friends using it. And OSM is the kind of project that pretty much everyone potentially could contribute to, because local knowledge is invaluable for that kind of stuff. So caring for usability for everyone should be the primary goal, I'd assume.
Yet OSM is kinda "b2b" in terms it's important for stuff like Foursquare running, but is close to unusable for the common user without stuff like MapBox, Foursquare and such. Because, really, what "common user" cares for? Where to find café nearby, how far is it from point A to point B (usually in some comparatively small area) and only very little information about the whole world (like major cities, country borders). More importantly, whatever information is there, he want's it to be usable and accessible. That is, being fast to navigate, ability to make marks on your local device, accessible in offline. Ideally, of course, you'd also want to have seamless integration between offline and online modes, ability to share your local maps, there's always something more to wish. So I feel that existence of good clients for all platforms and ability to extract information you need for them easily (without any self-education for that purpose at all, really) are absolutely must-have.
Well, alright, we cannot expect somebody else working for free to provide every single service we want after all. If you want something done, do it yourself, right? It's how the open-source works, really. And that's the real problem: documentation is horrible, both for "common users" and "power users" (potential developers). There's quite impressive in sense of size wiki, but it's totally awful in sense of usefulness. It's very hard to get going if you are completely new to project and don't know anything about cartography. There's basically only one thing I want to know when I find anything new: how to use that thing. That is "Getting started" guide, followed by links to "What's next?". OSM wiki has something called "Beginners' guide", but it must be a joke, as the only thing it does is explaining how do I actually edit that map, and that isn't really "using". (Again, if we don't think of it as b2b only, which I explained why I think it's wrong.)
The same time there're articles on very wide range of topics, like existing software clients or "Why open data is important". But you aren't guided to stuff like that. And they are even worse. For example, why'd you care for existing clients? Right, you want to find one for your device. There might be several bests, sure, but neutral-point-of-view-style listing of a hundred of them does only a little better than nothing at all. If you want to know what you have to do (or know) in order to implement your own one — it's even worse. The typical github project probably has better API overview than OSM (and usually even includes some domain-specific knowledge you probably don't have if you are new to the field, which is absolutely natural in case of cartography).
If you want to see an example of good thematic wiki, look at ArchLinux wiki.
Overall I think OpenStreetMap is better of having small projects like WheelMap, OpenFireMap, SeaMap, CoinMap etc. because there is less or even no competition at all. Many of these things can simply not be done the same way with google.
What you are suggesting is competing with google maps with basic services, where OpenSreetMap is worse of at best sometimes equal. Why should someone use OSM to get from A to B when google and every navigation system already do that perfectly?
OSM is not both. It is a project for editing and creating a free map database over the world. The site, the community and the wiki is all geared towards attracting editors and making the data they contribute as high quality as possible.
It would be good if we had a project to make it easy to use and develop application on top of the free data OSM provides. Its not OSM goal for now, so the spot is open for anyone who feel they can make a difference.
But I can't for the several reasons. First off, I don't have enough domain knowledge myself yet to improve the docs or even confidently develop for OSM. And, yes, I'm planning to correct this omission, but not even soon enough.
The second reason is, that b2b model I pointed out to be wrong in my opinion is the very idea of OSM at this point. You can see claims quite often, that stuff I mentioned isn't important, because OSM is the data, not the service. That's why I've written this post, explaining why I think ignoring "the service" part is hurting "the data" part, in hope that somebody from OSM community would read it.
On the "b2b" thing: I think that's a mischaracterisation. It's not "to business" specifically, it's to anyone who wants to make use of the data. There are already OSM-powered consumer-grade mapping sites for particular verticals (I run one for UK cyclists, http://cycle.travel/map) and more are on the way.
But it's not true that osm.org goes out of its way to avoid being a consumer service. It may not be the prime focus (and nor should it be) but there's a lot happening on the user-facing side of OSM: a significant redesign last year, lots of stylesheet improvements underway, and routing going live in the next couple of months, for example.
If anything this seems like a weak attempt to garner some attention for doublemap. I mean look at the link, its to github.io sure, but is there any actual code. No. Then why not link to doublemap's blog? Why create this false sense of open community (by linking to a github page) and sharing if you're not really sharing anything. You're basically detailing what you did in text, but in no way do you share your code.
The point here is that "Google" is no longer synonymous with "map" and that there is finally some choice in the space. This post by DoubleMap shows that going with an alternative at scale is more than possible.