After several high-profile defections, Google is backpedaling somewhat on its coming fees for using the Google Maps API. The company has significantly reduced the charges it plans to levy on large-scale users, dropping the price from $4 per 1,000 map loads to $.50 per 1,000 map loads (once the site has passed the 25,000-a-day free limit).
The move comes after several big names — including FourSquare and Apple — publicly ditched Google Maps in favor of OpenStreetMap. While neither Apple nor FourSquare has explicitly cited the price increase as a factor in its decision, Google’s Geo Developer blog makes it clear that price was a factor for some users.
“We’ve been listening carefully to feedback,” reads the announcement, which goes on to add “some developers were worried about the potential costs.”
The vast majority of maps hackers and casual developers will probably never be affected by the coming Google Maps pricing structure since the Google Maps API will still be free for the first 25,000 views per day. According to Google only 0.35 percent of sites using the Maps API regularly exceed those limits.
Still, for developers who dream of creating a wildly successful site that does reach those traffic numbers, the Google Maps API will soon be another cost to factor into the plan. And that may be enough to dissuade some from using Google Maps. The price drops may help, but it’s going to be increasingly difficult for big services to justify even the lower price of the Google Maps API when OpenStreetMap is available for free.