The Commercial Satellite Imagery Business Model is Broken

Photo by Josh Spires (dronenr) on Unsplash

The Curse of the Consummate Customer

A very scientific chart courtesy of the Morrison Institute for Thought Leadership™

The Innovator’s Dilemma

To the Satellite Companies: You Have a Choice

  • Distribution
  • Licensing
  1. If you give data away in an open data program, license it for commercial reuse. When you license it for non-commercial reuse you stifle all of the interesting innovation that can occur which would enable the communities you’re trying to help to actually get the expertise they need to exploit your data. It’s not “enabling” to restrictively license your “open” data. There is no true threat to your paid products by permissively licensing data you give away unless you start giving away several orders of magnitude more data. When you go to an ice cream shop, they let you taste the flavors you’re interested in. But they don’t make you promise to spit them back out once you’ve tried them.
  2. “Internal use only” licensing is restrictive enough that it should be dirt cheap. Multi-use licensing with a restricted number of affiliates is a little better, but it’s not materially different than internal use only, it just widens the aperture of what’s considered “internal.” Create a standard pricing structure and license for use cases where the customer wants to turn around and give the imagery away or do whatever they want with it. Think of it like paying to openly license the data.² Just figure out a price and then lower it, because you aren’t making much from all that data gathering dust on on your cloud servers (which cost you millions of dollars each month to maintain anyway).
  • Pricing

Miracles Happen




Comedic relief at Umbra. Writing about maps and the people that make them. For inquiries: jrmorrison.jrm [at] gmail [dot] com

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Joe Morrison

Joe Morrison

Comedic relief at Umbra. Writing about maps and the people that make them. For inquiries: jrmorrison.jrm [at] gmail [dot] com

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