It took a long time (and some angry letters) to make it happen, but Craiglist has finally put its free database of apartment listings on the map. Literally. “Map View” rolled out to residents in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and other locations on October 4. Apartment hunters will now be able to find a place on Craigslist without having to scroll through a bunch of links.
This map of San Francisco shows all of the available apartments under $2,000. The colored circles represent the number of available units in each area. Clicking on the circles reveals a closer look at the individual apartments, which are marked with a peace sign. The information pops up just like a restaurant listing would on a Google map. The maps still are still missing from certain cities, like New York, and don’t catch all of the available listings, but they are convenient to use.
Part of the delay in releasing an app like this has been Craigslist’s reluctance to share its data with other developers. Unlike Instagram, which had a number of competing photo mapping applications built prior to launching its own, Craigslist’s policy forbids outsiders from reusing its data on another site without a license.
When a Quora user asked why no one had built any products on top of Craigslist data, users pointed to “scary cease and desist letters” the company sends to try to shut down anyone who would make a competing product. Founder Craig Newmark responded by saying, “Actually, we take issue with only services which consume a lot of bandwidth, it’s that simple.”
Recently, Craigslist has been fighting to stop a competing application called PadMapper from scraping apartment listings from its site. The company sent cease-and-desist letters in June and later followed up with a formal lawsuit when the competitor found a way to get around the law by going through a third-party data service called 3taps.
3taps has since filed a counterclaim. As for PadMapper, it looks like the listings site is still linking back to Craigslist.