Google is dramatically cutting prices for the heaviest developer-users of of its Maps API to keep them from defecting to other platforms. The company has slashed prices “from US $4 per 1,000 map loads to 50¢ per 1,000 map loads.”
Since the new fees policy was instituted last Fall, there have been several high profile departures from Google Maps, including Foursquare and Wikipedia. (Apple bounced Google from iPhone Maps for a range of reasons, the least of which were fees.)
There were rumblings about the fees and expressions of interest in alternatives throughout the developer community, especially in OpenStreetMap. There were also concerns expressed about the “predictability and stability” of Google Maps.
In response — and just ahead of Google I/O next week — the company has simplified its limits policy and reduced its API prices for its highest volume Google Maps developer-users, as stated above. Google says fees “will only apply to the top 0.35% of sites regularly exceeding the published limits of 25,000 map loads every day for 90 consecutive days.” Most other users of the Maps API will continue to access it for free.
Below are the new prices and limits:
To determine whether your site is impacted by the limits and fees (you probably already know), Google recommends the following:
- To monitor whether your site might be affected by the Maps API usage limits, use a Google APIs Console key with your applications. Daily usage reports will then be generated in the console.
- Non-profit organizations aren’t affected by the Maps API usage limits and can also apply for a free Maps API for Business license through the Google Earth Outreach grants program.
The look and feel of Google Maps became a kind of standard for third party websites using maps. However the emergence of Apple Maps, the increasing legitimacy of OpenStreetMap, as well as a more aggressive push by Nokia and other independent mapping providers such as deCarta, has introduced more developer options into the market.
Google’s price-cut move aims to preempt and prevent additional erosion of the Google Maps brand and its position within the developer community.