Topozone.com is no more

Topozone.com is no more

Joined: April 10th, 2008, 11:06 pm

April 10th, 2008, 11:13 pm #1

Fellow outdoor enthusiasts:

Trails.com has purchased Topozone.com, making the formerly-free Topozone subscription-only. They've deprived thousands of hikers, backpackers, and climbers of this useful service in order to force people to pay their outrageous subscription price. Please send a message to businessdev@trails.com to protest this outrage.

- Brian S.
Tennessee

P.S. I have never posted here, so I apologize for the spam-esque intrusiveness. I felt this warranted attention.
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Joined: January 21st, 2004, 4:12 am

April 11th, 2008, 5:24 am #2

Why shouldn't Trails.com charge a subscription fee for use of this service? If you have something of value, shouldn't you charge a fair market price for it? A company can't stay in business if it gives its product away for free. That is undoubtedly why Topozone.com had to sell its company to Trails.com.

Nothing in the world is free. By the way, the subscription fee is only $49.95 per year. I pay more than that to fill up the tank of my SUV with gasoline.

If demand exceeds supply, then the price of the product will go up until the demand matches supply. That's basic Economics 101. If you had your own business providing goods or services, would you give your goods or services away for free?

I just signed up for my subscription. It seems like the maps are of better quality than before.

Ken Akerman

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Joined: August 2nd, 2001, 8:13 pm

April 11th, 2008, 12:40 pm #3

Fellow outdoor enthusiasts:

Trails.com has purchased Topozone.com, making the formerly-free Topozone subscription-only. They've deprived thousands of hikers, backpackers, and climbers of this useful service in order to force people to pay their outrageous subscription price. Please send a message to businessdev@trails.com to protest this outrage.

- Brian S.
Tennessee

P.S. I have never posted here, so I apologize for the spam-esque intrusiveness. I felt this warranted attention.
There are numerous examples of businesses that give away services based either on advertising revenue (search engines) or as a means of attracting customers to their "premium" services or products (Google "Sketchup" as one prime example).

What is distressing about this move by trails.com is that topozone.com had a "give away limited services, charge for premium services" model that was very attractive but trails.com charges the same for either the basic (find a location on a topo map, view one screenful at at a time) or premium (specify an area and produce a custom printable map) services.

That said, they will almost certainly get my $50. The ability to search and find locations and know what quads I need to buy if I want the full maps are really necessities both for my Scouting, highpointing and other outdoor pursuits. Trouble is, I'm still annoyed that I can't grab a screen dump at a time and cut/paste my own maps for free. We already paid for the source data (i.e. the USGS topo maps that our tax dollars fund), so we are paying $50/year primarily for a search engine and enough graphical intelligence to electronically tape corners/edges of adjoining quads when the location is closer to the edge of the quad than the width of the view. (By the way, can someone please explain to me why darned near every interesting trail or peak seems to be right at the corner where you have to buy four quads to see it? I've never figured out how the probabilities work on that...)(ok, that's an exaggeration but you know what I mean...)

I don't disagree with the trails.com business model, but the predatory acquisition of topozone.com and elimination of all free services seems like a bad business decision if it drives customers away because of the entry-level costs. The market will tell...
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 9:10 pm

April 11th, 2008, 11:02 pm #4

It was a matter of time. The pop-ups were a sign of the apocalypse. It is sad to see Topozone go.

There is a void now that trails.com probably can't and won't fill. My limited dealings with them has been a headache. I do not like their nickel and dime approach to everything.

All map sites seem to be trending to 'premium' services. It's a shame since the basic images of the maps is often all I really want. For me, I have the Arizona State University map library nearby which has topos for all the USA. Even so, I will miss topozone. It remains to be seen what will fill the void - if another company will find some happy middle between the topozone 'free' site and the trails.com 'arm-and-leg' site. We don't need all the bells and whistles all the time.

I have no issue with paying for maps. But I need more convincing before I send 50 bucks to trails.com especially in view of my past experience with them.
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Joined: August 2nd, 2001, 8:13 pm

April 13th, 2008, 1:45 am #5

Fellow outdoor enthusiasts:

Trails.com has purchased Topozone.com, making the formerly-free Topozone subscription-only. They've deprived thousands of hikers, backpackers, and climbers of this useful service in order to force people to pay their outrageous subscription price. Please send a message to businessdev@trails.com to protest this outrage.

- Brian S.
Tennessee

P.S. I have never posted here, so I apologize for the spam-esque intrusiveness. I felt this warranted attention.
I have to say one of the things I will miss most about the free services of topozone is the ability to provide a link to a particular location's map. With trails.com having a fee-for-service model, the only alternative is to download a map, put it on my website server as an <img> file and then link to that file.

That is both an unnecessary pain and creates a maintenance headache for me, especially for maps of limited-time-duration use. Now I'll have to remember which ones are "permanent" and which are "temporary" and apply some aging logic so I clean out the temporary files periodically.

Oh, well, at least hostmonster.com has upped the storage provided with their web server packages, so I can store a bunch of maps whether or not they are actively linked or just something I wanted to show someone in an email conversation.
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Joined: January 22nd, 2004, 8:36 pm

April 16th, 2008, 8:43 pm #6

Updating the various topozone links I had in my website will be a pain. So much for the free advertising I was providing them!

I sent a nasty-gram to trails.com, but doubt it will do any good. Maybe this will be a good thing; I can simply explore the lay of the land with no pesky map to encumber me...
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Joined: January 22nd, 2004, 8:36 pm

April 17th, 2008, 7:49 pm #7

Why shouldn't Trails.com charge a subscription fee for use of this service? If you have something of value, shouldn't you charge a fair market price for it? A company can't stay in business if it gives its product away for free. That is undoubtedly why Topozone.com had to sell its company to Trails.com.

Nothing in the world is free. By the way, the subscription fee is only $49.95 per year. I pay more than that to fill up the tank of my SUV with gasoline.

If demand exceeds supply, then the price of the product will go up until the demand matches supply. That's basic Economics 101. If you had your own business providing goods or services, would you give your goods or services away for free?

I just signed up for my subscription. It seems like the maps are of better quality than before.

Ken Akerman
Ken is right; there is most definitely no money in those puny TV and radio networks who give away all that programming to the public for free...
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Joined: January 22nd, 2004, 8:36 pm

April 17th, 2008, 8:22 pm #8

Fellow outdoor enthusiasts:

Trails.com has purchased Topozone.com, making the formerly-free Topozone subscription-only. They've deprived thousands of hikers, backpackers, and climbers of this useful service in order to force people to pay their outrageous subscription price. Please send a message to businessdev@trails.com to protest this outrage.

- Brian S.
Tennessee

P.S. I have never posted here, so I apologize for the spam-esque intrusiveness. I felt this warranted attention.
Well, I've officially sent my nasty-gram to trails.com for their handling of the acquisition, and haven't yet received a response. In the mean time, I've found a couple alternate map sites from the forums on SummitPost. Some actually seem to be better in the short time I've had to play with them, but regardless, I'll take a free map over a $50 one any day.

Free Topographical Map Sites:
• ACME Mapper (http://mapper.acme.com) - The initial map pops up based on your IP address.
• LibreMap Project (http://www.libremap.org/) - Allows you to download TIF verisons of full USGS topo quads for free. Also includes other data formats.
• MyTopo (http://www.mytopo.com/maps.cfm) - A searchable topo / street / hybrid map site that includes Canada as well. Currently undergoing beta testing, but if you reply to the thread on SP (search for "Topozone is no longer useful", then the MyTopo folks will actually change the program based on your comments!
• National Geographic Topo Explorer (http://www.topo.com) - Currently undergoing beta testing.
• USGS Map Locator & Downloader (http://store.usgs.gov/locator/) - Allows you to download PDF versions of full USGS topo quads for free.

Damn the man & power to the people!!!
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Joined: January 21st, 2004, 4:12 am

April 17th, 2008, 8:23 pm #9

Ken is right; there is most definitely no money in those puny TV and radio networks who give away all that programming to the public for free...
Ken is right; there is most definitely no money in those puny TV and radio networks who give away all that programming to the public for free...

"Free" TV & radio is definitely not "free" - one has to watch or listen to many commercials during the course of programming. For example, a typical 30-minute situation comedy on network television only has about 22 minutes of actual running time, so there are 8 minutes of commercials every 30 minutes. Thus, over a quarter of the time allocated to programming is allocated to advertising.

Most TV channels are on cable or satellite these days, so you have to pay a fee to access them, and you still have to view the commercials. The most popular cable channels (i.e. ESPN, FOX News, CNN, MTV, etc.) are part of the basic cable package; for the "premium" channels (i.e. HBO, Showtime, etc.), you have to pay even more.

Perhaps the best solution for Trails.com to offer, in my opinion, is to offer a free basic package, supported by advertising, and several different levels of premium packages that customers would pay increasing prices for, depending on the level of service that they desire and the amount that they are willing to pay. Therefore, the company would be able to achieve the maximum amount of revenue and would be able to satisfy the needs and wants of the greatest number of customers.

Some customers just occassionally want to view a few small-scale maps with limited detail, so for them the free package would work well and they would have no need to pay more. Other customers would require more frequent access to a wider variety of maps, at greater levels of detail, so many such customers would be willing to pay a competitive market price for access to such maps.

It's interesting to learn about such topics from the perspective of marketing and economics. There is a company based in Houston, called <a href=http://www.prospricing.com>PROS</a> (Pricing and Revenue Optimization Software) which "is a world leader in pricing and revenue optimization science and software for manufacturing, distribution, services, hotel/cruise, and airlines". This company provides software and services to companies to help them determine the optimum prices to charge to maximize revenues and profits.
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