Geocaching.com has Opencaching.com, soon GPS will have Beidou
Opencaching.com has become a recent alternative to Geocaching.com and it looks like the US may soon have their own competition as China are progressing with plans for their own independent satellite navigation and positioning network. They have launched the 7th satellite of the Beidou (Compass System) network that will eventually have 30 satellites.
China started building its own satellite navigation system to end its dependence upon the US GPS system in 2000, when it sent two orbiters as a double-satellite experimental positioning system.
Beidou, as the system is called, is designed to provide navigation, time and short message services in the Asia and Pacific region before 2012 and will be capable of providing global navigation services by 2020.
This could be a hugely significant development for the GPS market if China open up their network for use by the entire world. Assuming they do and the system is roughly as good as the US GPS system then 2020 could see a flood of cheap China produced Beidou units released into the GPS market. This must be an alarming prospect for the major manufacturers as the current smart phone craze is eating into their sales.
Of course the business world, just like the rest of it, is a case of adapt or die. Wouldn’t it be cool to be geocaching and be able to switch between satellite networks in the same GPSr? And think of all the new puzzle caches that could be created!