Google Maps API

Google have announced that they will introduce usage limits and start billing excess usage fees for their Google Maps API from 1st January 2012.

The free usage limit has been set at 25,000 map loads per day. If you exceed this limit your choices are:

Excess usage is billed at $4 per 1,000 map loads.

What happens if you do none of these?

Your maps will continue to function. However if your application qualifies for and consistently exceeds the published Maps API usage limits, you do not have a Maps API Premier license, and you do not enroll for online purchasing of excess map loads, a warning may be shown on your map and a Maps API Premier sales manager may contact you to discuss your licensing options.

While this apparently won’t affect 99.65% of users and is aimed squarely at the high-usage ‘abusers’, one does wonder what plans Google have for widening the net of their haul by reducing the limits even further.

Fortunately developers who use the Maps External Library to embed maps in their Android or iOS apps shouldn’t be affected, but again I wonder how long before Google decide to cash-in on this lucrative revenue stream too.

Apple presumably have the same fears. Earlier this year they quietly acquired Swedish mapping technology firm C3 Technologies, so it’s probably safe to assume that they are developing an alternative maps API to challenge Google’s dominance.

While I appreciate that Google is a profit-making commercial enterprise, the manner in which these fees have been introduced is a cause for concern.

It’s akin to a drug dealer giving away free hits and then exploiting the poor addicts once they’re hooked on drugs.

Is this indicative of a new Google business model to get us all using their ‘free’ services and then bleed us dry once we’re all dependent?

Google’s “Don’t be evil” corporate motto might need to be updated soon.

" The first one's free kid ... "