Locating the cash: Now Google charge for their Maps API
Despite refusing to charge end users for their services, it seems Google are getting increasingly comfortable charging developers to use their APIs. Previously you only had to pay to use the Google Maps API if your site or app was charging users. Following Wednesdays announcement there is now a second trigger for charging, as Google has introduced throttling on the API. This follows on from Google introducing charging for their translation API back in August
The charging structure will work like this. Up to 25,000 standard API calls, and up to 2,500 calls of the Styled Map feature per day will be free of charge. You can then purchase additional calls or license the Premier version of the API.
Pricing is around $4 for every additional 1,000 map loads, and a Premier license "starts at" $10,000 per year. This compares to the Bing Maps model of 125,000 sessions or 500,000 transactions per year for free, then upgrade to their Enterprise license, the pricing of which is not published. Its a "give us a call so we can talk" type of deal.
This move seems to confirm a significant strategic shift for Google.
It will be interesting to see how other location providers respond. Do they also attempt to cash in on location (like the Mobile Operators have long been criticised for doing) or do they attempt to steal market share from Google by changing their fees? It will be interesting to see how or if this spikes interest in the range of free alternatives like the BlueVia Location API, OpenStreetMap, and MapNik. I'm not sure if Fireeagle is still alive?
My other concern is I hope this move does not shift mobile app developers to purely relying on the phones GPS location, rather than using server side location look ups. Ewan over at Mobile Industry Review wrote an entertaining piece on the benefits of server side look up's here, which is worth a read.
What will you use?