RIP FireEagle. You Shall Share Location No More
Back in 2010, when I left Yahoo! to go and join Nokia, I wrote some words that at the time seemed full of hope for the future of the Geotechnologies group I'd left.
I’ll continue to use my core set of Yahoo! products, tools and APIs … YQL, Placemaker, GeoPlanet, WOEIDs, YUI, Flickr and Delicious. Not because I used to work for Yahoo! but because they’re superb products.
Time and changes of corporate heart have not been kind here. Maybe it's time to take a look at the state of the geo union.
YQL. The Yahoo! Query Language. Still here although I haven't used it in anger for several years as the service was frequently down.
Yahoo! Maps and the Yahoo! Maps API. RIP. Yahoo! Maps is now run by the back-end services of Nokia, my current employer and the Yahoo! Maps API finally got switched off in November 2012.
Placemaker and PlaceFinder. Still here. Sort of. Placemaker is now Placespotter and while PlaceFinder keeps its name they're both part of Yahoo! BOSS Geo, which means if you want to use them it's time to dig into your wallet for your credit card as they're no longer free to use.
GeoPlanet. Still here. Still free. You have to ask the question for how long though.
WOEIDs. Still here and although you can still use WOEIDs through the GeoPlanet and Flickr APIs, the GeoPlanet Data download remains offline, although see also the fact that there's no delete button for the Internet. WOEIDs are probably not going to go anywhere soon as Yahoo's geotargeting platform depends on them. For now.
YUI. Still here and open sourced on GitHub.
Flickr. Still here, used on a regular basis by me and even flourishing with a renewed iPhone app and a horde of refugees from Instagram after that service's on, off, on again change of licensing terms in December 2012.
Delicious. Still here and still used on a relatively regular basis by me but no longer owned or operated by Yahoo! who sold it to AVOS in 2011.
Did I mention that the old Yahoo! Geo Technologies blog, after years of being down, now redirects to the Yahoo! corporate blog? No? Well it does.
And now it seems that another of Yahoo's geo products has finally done to the deadpool as FireEagle finally stops sharing people's locations and Tom Coates, who I remember discussing what would become FireEagle over coffee back when we both worked at Yahoo, was in a sanguine mood on Twitter.
The fate of FireEagle has long been been in the balance since it was mentioned as one of the products due to be sunsetted or merged with another product in 2010. The merging never happened and now FireEagle is no more.
Which is a great shame as FireEagle was way ahead of its time and in today's age of location based services and social media sharing, the need for a way to share your location that makes sense for both the privacy of individuals and for businesses is needed more than ever.
If anyone's looking to resurrect the notion of FireEagle, hopefully you'll be the first to let me know.