If you’ve been following my blog over the last week you’ll know that I’m quite interested in the pending launch of Garmin’s opencaching.com website. I say pending because all signs are that they are launching a geocache listing website. As we approach that day I thought I’d check in with the existing opencaching community to see what their thoughts are on the subject.
The feedback I have received so far is that the existing opencaching community is optimistic but skeptical about what Garmin will do with their opencaching.com site. The folks in Germany have been very vocal about their skepticism yet when I heard from Jörg Bertram of opencaching.de he wrote to me that “we hope for a solution in dialog with Garmin Inc.” This sounds positive to me. At least the folks in Germany have not yet decided to boycot Garmin’s initiative.
The idea of having an opencaching site seems to hinge on two details: everyone is equal, as in there is no premium membership and your data is your data. It appears to me that the opencaching community grew out of a frustration with Groundspeak’s geocaching.com over these two issues. Garmin can gain much needed alignment with the opencaching movement by adopting these two ideals.
Garmin will have to overcome one large stumbling block however which is the domain name. filips from geokrety.org puts it like this, “Launching the site using a widely known name without consulting with the opencaching society is a thing which makes me very skeptical about the project”. This sentiment is expressed similarly by Jerry of opencaching.us, “The way I see it, if you want to succeed at something, you don’t start off by alienating the very people who are your bread and butter”.
I’m not sure how long the opencaching.com site was up for but Olif Laurin from opencaching.se was apparently able to log in using his my.garmin.com credentials. He told me that he ” had the time to read the user agreement. Caches registered on the site is done so with one of the creative commons licenses and that is sound.”
Mr. Laurin did have strong words for Garmin when it comes to device interoperability. He wrote:
… if Garmin’s agenda is to create something that does not support other gps manufacturers devices, the choosing of the name opencaching will be regarded as a trademark infringement, and in some jurisdictions they could be prosecuted due to the name opencaching already being used.
Unless Garmin starts communicating with it’s intended audience we will have to continue to speculate on what may or may not happen. At least the current opencaching community is living up to their name by being open. Garmin could take a lesson from this group and share some thoughts on what they plan on doing. At the very least Garmin could initiate contact with the existing sites in order to quell any fears the opencaching community may have.