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Google Technology

Google Maps To Charge For API Usage 141

RdeCourtney writes "The BBC is reporting that from 1 January 2012, Google will charge for the Google Maps API service when more than the limit of 25,000 map "hits" are made in a day. Google is rumoured to be charging $4 per 1,000 views in excess of the limit. Google maintains the high limit of 25,000 free hits before charging 'will only affect 0.35% of users.'"
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Google Maps To Charge For API Usage

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  • Does openstreetmap.org have any limits on map access?

    http://www.openstreetmap.org/ [openstreetmap.org]

    • It does, but mostly to protect server load. Once you hit that, you're advised to grab the whole planet source data and serve it yourself.
      • by richlv ( 778496 )

        as an added benefit, you get all source data, in vectors. render your own style, route... whatever you wish. yay :)

    • http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/API_usage_policy [openstreetmap.org]

      Not as cut-and-dried as Google's; and they don't have a pay tier(though you can just run your own mirror and pay for that directly); but they also don't approve of use heavy enough to be problematic given their hosting resources. Not a huge surprise, really.
    • by nroets ( 1463881 )

      OpenStreetMap has an acceptable use policy, as opposed to limits. The sysadmins implement limits on an ad hoc basis to ensure that the servers are not overload.

      The number of services from osm.org is however quite limited. For example no routing.

      If you are serious about reducing fuel consumption and other forms of waste, it really makes sense to pay for the best service, be it Google Maps, OSM, NT or TA. Computing the best route between two points 20 kilometers apart is a fraction of a cent, even with the wo

      • And if you're smart about it, you can cache that routing data in your own database. How often does a route change between two points?

        • by bgat ( 123664 )

          Frequently, if the route goes through a metro area with sporadic traffic congestion issues.

    • by nkh ( 750837 )
      With OpenStreetMap, you can clone the maps (get dumps [openstreetmap.org] and install the software) and use them on your own servers. If you're serious about using maps on web sites, you either give Google a few bucks (with the special API for those who wants to pay [google.com]) or you use your own servers. On the browser, you can install special libraries like leaflet [cloudmade.com] to have pretty maps like Google.
      • by bberens ( 965711 )
        I disagree. If you're serious about using maps you will probably go with Bing because they have superior APIs. It's one of the few things Microsoft has gotten (relatively) right.
        • I hate to plug Microsoft, but I can think of another thing MS probably got right that Google definitely didn't: it didn't take them well over a year to show Louisville [google.com] as a city [searchengineland.com].

          I wonder how Bing maps is about dealing with user-reported errors or suggestions? I gave up on reporting anything to Google Maps long ago because they never actually fixed anything. They'd email me back weeks later saying the problem was fixed, except that nothing had changed.

          • I have sent 3 reports to Google Maps. All three were fixed quickly, and on all 3 occasions google emailed me to ask if it now looked correct. Perfect.
          • by spitzak ( 4019 )

            I have only sent one fix to Google, and it was fixed within a week. They did not send anything back but I believe they listened to my fix because the error had been there for years and it seems to much of a coincidence that it was fixed that week. Fix was to add a connection between a bike path and a road.

            So for me 100% of my reports to Google have been listened to and applied.

        • by kingturkey ( 930819 ) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @01:35PM (#37909786)

          Yeah, Bing is awesome [bing.com]. Did anybody else know that Lima, one of the world's largest cities [wikipedia.org] has approximately 3 streets?

          • by adolf ( 21054 )

            Eh? Bing shows Lima [bing.com] pretty clearly, for me.

            Perhaps you're holding it wrong.

            • Lima, Ohio, is on the other side of the planet from Lima, Peru.

              Perhaps look at the link you're responding to before responding?

              • by adolf ( 21054 )


                • It'd only be "whoosh" if he didn't provide a link. But he did.

                  • by adolf ( 21054 )

                    Oh yeah? Well, my link showed a map of Lima and even implied it was in Peru (which is a nationality which OP did not specify in the text of his comment).

                    So, there. And stuff.

                    I submit that Lima, [unspecified] has very accurate mapping on Google Maps, having myself driven there for almost a decade, and can personally attest to the fact that it has far more than three streets.

                    *whoosh* indeed: It may not actually be very funny, but it is very clearly an intentional parody, which you quite plainly missed.


            • Yeah, they actually have a pretty complete map of all of Peru [bing.com].

              • by adolf ( 21054 )

                I love Peru [bing.com] this time of year.

                • I have a feeling you didn't click the link in my post, since you posted the exact same one. Incidentally, the Peruvian Tourism Ministry created a very entertaining video [youtube.com] in Peru, Nebraska for a tourism campaign.

                  • by adolf ( 21054 )

                    Naah. I clicked on it. I just wanted to duplicate it and see if it the intentional consistency might further the chaos, but I'm sure it's all done by now and all I got was your own reply.

                    Love your video link, though. Though it's relatively long-winded and rather tame, it really is very well done so I am adding it to my collection of publicly-presentable weirdness. :)

          • They're paying $1 billion to Nokia and maps(Navteq) are involved, so it might significantly improve in the future.

        • by gilgongo ( 57446 )

          We used to use Bing, but their non-US maps are generally worse than Google's, who also localise them:


          http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=35.675977848368284~139.76959228515628&lvl=10&dir=0&sty=c&eo=1&where1=Tokyo%2C%20Japan&form=LMLTCC [bing.com]


          http://g.co/maps/767nz [g.co]

          Don't read Japanese? No luck with Bing then.

          So we switched.

    • If you access the maps through their servers directly then they have an acceptable use policy. They don't specify explicit numeric limits though.

      If you download the dumps and run your own servers you can access them as much as you like.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Queue incoming stream of slashdotters who will be outraged at their Google's failure to provide a quality service for free, followed by waves of tinfoil hats shouting "you are the product!"

    • They were basically running a charity by allowing people to download maps to their GPS devices with no ad revenue in return, and all that data can't be cheap to store and deliver.

      • by bberens ( 965711 )
        Google has destroyed the market for GPS devices for everyone in my circle of friends and family. There's a couple of hiking/fishing style GPS devices, but none of the "driving" directions style. I dunno what it costs them to run that "map" charity, but I can tell you that it goes along way for marketing/mindshare every time I use the Navigation app to get somewhere.
      • For an organization that runs 100K+ servers and has hundreds of GBps of private fiber running around, not to mention sweet peering and transit deals due to their data transfer volume, I wouldn't worry too much about what they're paying to move all that data around. Its *very* cheap for them.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @10:35AM (#37907444) Journal

    You can pay for extra space in gmail, too, but we don't hear to many complaints about that (I'm rapidly approaching my limit). They are, admittedly, providing a service for which you would otherwise have to pay. If it's big deal, link your map to the plain Google site. Oh, you don't want to un-brand your map and keep people captured on your site? Excuse my while I shed a tear.

    • They just moved from free to pay API for Google Translate. The cost? $20 per MILLION characters (or about 5 cents/page). How do people bitch so much about something that provides so much value so cheap?

      • They expect Google to be free. Except for the non-existent customer support (and by customer, I mean users, not advertisers), many of their products are better than paid alternatives. And when it comes down to it, many other pay providers have lousy CS, too. At least at Google, you're not paying for lousy support.

        It's been pretty nice of them to keep the interface free for so long (first hit is always free, right?) - making this in-house would require a significant outlay of cash.

    • by suy ( 1908306 )

      Oh, you don't want to un-brand your map and keep people captured on your site? Excuse my while I shed a tear.

      Google started offering a service for free, and now starts charging. Someone where I work (BTW, the city map of the website from Barcelona's City Council) compared the change to the way drug dealers act. They offer something for free to make you addict, and later charge you when you are dependent of them.

      I think a better term is preventive dumping. By offering an expensive service for free during so many time, they make completely impossible for any startup to offer a similar service without lots and lots o

  • I have no problem with Google charging for the API. Please remember that this only cover high use sites which wish to offer a service on the back of the considerable work and expense Google has put into maps. My only real concern is that as a Google 'customer' I have always found that support is something they do poorly, and this can be forgiven when you're not paying for the service. If Google uses the money to improve the service, assist customers then I have no issue with them making a profit off of the
    • Since you aren't paying them, you still won't be a customer, so why do you expect support? Customer support is expensive. For many businesses it is the main profit center. Redhat for example.

      • by TamCaP ( 900777 )
        I have paid for Google services. Not a lot (under $1K a year), but I have. The one time I asked for support... it was disappointing.
        Sorry, this is impossible, feel free to e-mail in a suggestion, goodbye.
        There are ways of saying no that don't feel like the rep just slapped you on the face :-/
  • ...because of Siri no doubt.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      How is it aimed at Apple, precisely? The Google integration in IOS is an official collaboration with Google, I hardly think Apple is subject to the public limits of usage.

      • Well it could be, I'm not sure what "pffical collaboration" matters other than as a label. While I have no idea why the GP brought up Siri, we did just read about Apple buying lots of map software companies. And Apple has been openly hostile towards Google over the past two years. Strategically it might make sense to force Apple into a mad rush to finish their map project -- the writing is on the wall that they will be ditching Google Maps soon. I dont know financially how much of a difference it would

    • Apple obviously already has some kind of deal in place with Google for maps... They've used Google maps since day one. And Google has always charged for high volume use of its other APIs... e.g. geo-tagging. This is a non-story.

  • So would this affect corporate users such as with Apple's Maps app on iOS? If so, I guess that could be another reason for their recent maps company acquisition.
    • I would guess that *Android* is a major reason for Apples mapping acquisitions - this has been going on for a while. I highly doubt when Google and Apple matched up for their collaboration, Google merely said "sure, sign up for a mapping API key and knock yourself out"...

  • I don't think announcing the prices [google.com] counts as being rumored.
  • Do I have to start paying $1 for every 100 searches I do over 1000 a month?
    Not to mention with that horribly awful instant search BS they keep pushing, I can only imagine how much crap like that would hit people's wallets.
    • Re:What's next? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <slashdot3NO@SPAMjustconnected.net> on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @10:42AM (#37907614)

      What's next? Will I need to do this completely ridiculous thing that's in no way follows logically from the thing they've announced? I can only imagine how this implausible occurrence would affect this other thing I have a pet peeve against!

      Wow. Just... wow.

    • Do I have to start paying $1 for every 100 searches I do over 1000 a month?

      How about $1 per 1000 searches over 25,000? (less bandwidth-heavy than Maps) I think that would be great. It would let people with ancillary business ideas leverage Google's search data. Right now, there's a hard limit and then you're cut off. That precludes many business models, and many potential Google incubators (companies Google might want to buy).

      Price rationing is a superior business model for all involved.

    • Do I have to start paying $1 for every 100 searches I do over 1000 a month? Not to mention with that horribly awful instant search BS they keep pushing, I can only imagine how much crap like that would hit people's wallets.

      You get three choices with online services:

      1 Funding through taxes, private grants or donations.

      2 Supported by advertising.

      This works only when adds are visible and clearly reaching their target audience.

      3 Rental, subscriptions, or sales.

      There are only so many people that want another tee shirt or coffee mug, Merchandising is not always the answer,

    • You are aware you do not need to use Google's services if you don't like them, right?

  • Google is rumoured to be charging $4 per 1,000 views in excess of the limit. Google maintains the high limit of 25,000 free hits before charging 'will only affect 0.35% of users.'"

    Provide the data behind that and people might believe it.

    • If you look up a few comments, someone posted a link to google announcing the prices.
    • Well, that'd be interesting/helpful/whatever, but really, what does it give you in reality? It's a service Google provides, they're saying "here are the payment terms we're going to implement", and you you decide if it's worth it to you.

      • The 0.35% implies that they have some sort of measurement backed by data. Otherwise it's some number pulled out from their rear.

        It would make the decision more objective to have that data.

  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @10:45AM (#37907656) Homepage Journal

    If they would let the developers choose to add sponsored results within the map (with a category to pick so as not to compete), maybe they can offset the price.

    I wouldn't have a problem if my map showed Taco Bell or Red Box locations.

    Of course, I guess the app or website could filter the sponsored results out, but I'm sure Google's smart spiders and human TOS verifiers could detect it and remove the free access. If only 0.35% of their API users are affected, it's not like they've got that much work to confirm proper TOS compliance.

    • I already see sponsored results show up on my iPhone's Maps app, so I'm pretty sure you're gonna get those regardless of if you pay or not.

  • They've obviously got to cover costs. Plus, it being Google, there won't be the usual wave of "OMG! Evil Corporation X dares to charge for their evil service Y! Which is inferior than FOSS project zzzzzzz anyway" zealot posts here - everyone will be mellow.

  • I just hope they don't feel the need to ruin it like Reader and the Google Home page revamp. You have to wonder how long it'll be until you have to go to G+ to get your map data?
  • by davecrusoe ( 861547 ) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @11:06AM (#37907988) Homepage

    Dear Google,

    We ( http://www.plml.org/ [plml.org] ) use many of your API services for our tools. Recently, we had to switch from the Google Search API to Bing's Search API due to the new fee-for-access system. Bing works, but does not yet deliver the same quality of service that teachers and students expect. We hope they improve, but so far, have seen little action from their API team.

    With respect to the Google Search API: While our sites (for instance, http://www.boolify.org/ [boolify.org] ) do utilize more than the maximum number of hits per day for the free API access ( with Search, it's just 100! ) we do not have the ability to pay the fees associated with the usage we incur.

    Nonetheless, it is our mission to continue to provide free access to the educational tools we develop (there are many others like us), and struggle to continue to provide tools that schools expect to be of high quality, while balancing that ability with what we can provide within existing technological services.

    The other grant programs you provide to nonprofits are essential (AdWords, Apps Enterprise, etc). We, and many others, make use of these grants daily, if not every minute, of our operation.

    So, as you roll out additional fee-for-access programs, we humbly ask that you extend the grants program to cover these services as well. A little leeway on your part will go a long way toward helping us deliver on our social mission!

    Many thanks,

    Staff @ Public Learning Media, http://www.plml.org./ [www.plml.org]

    • by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @11:20AM (#37908174) Homepage

      They already cover this case:

      Non-profits and applications deemed in the public interest (as determined by Google at its discretion) are not subject to these usage limits. For example, a disaster relief map is not subject to the usage limits even if it has been developed and/or is hosted by a commercial entity. In addition we recommend that eligible Non-profits apply for a Maps API Premier license through the Google Earth Outreach program. This provides a number of benefits, including the right to opt-out of advertising, higher quotas for Maps API web services, and technical support.

      http://code.google.com/apis/maps/faq.html#usagelimits [google.com]

    • Dear Business,

      We just switched from you to your competitor because they offer their service for free. It turns out, though, that their product sucks and we like yours better. Would you consider giving us your superior product for free. You've already granted us free access to some of your other products, and we use an absolute boatload of those, taxing your infrastructure far more than you allow for normal entities. We'd like to do that for all of your other pay services.

      Thinking of the children,
      Your local

      • Heya, That's one way to read it, and I appreciate the interpretation. But, as far as I can tell, Google genuinely does want to do good - they provide *great* support for some things. My hope was to point out others that might extend their impact further. Basically, it's a way of saying hey -- some people used what was provided at no charge (formerly) for causes that didn't turn revenue, but did some social good. The API changes had a big impact on us (even if, for commercial entities, it was a small deal)
    • Yes, and I'm sure Bing loves you misspelling their name. It's little things like that which hurt credibility, so I'd strongly suggest you give your site the once over looking for any other glaring deficiencies.

  • Anyone who produces that many views most likely has multiple IPs. I can only see them limiting to 25k per IP, but then any heavy user would find a way to balance it out across all their address space. Of course, any "light" user who uses more than 25k views a day would probably find 0.4 cents per view cheaper than any extra development effort.
  • I have worked with two large nonprofits that rely on Google Maps to varying degrees, in some cases for mission-critical purposes and in other cases for ancillary tasks.

    From my developer's POV, Maps API is easy to use and the terms of service are more than fair, given that they're providing a tremendous service. Google Maps is one of those life-changing technologies (which Google did not invent, of course, but which they have perfected more than their competitors, IMO) and I wouldn't take it for granted.


  • This is the year of Open Street Map [openstreetmap.org] on... every device!!

    I run into this problem when trying to use GPS on a Linux netbook. The author of OSS got cease and desist from Google for using their maps. The Open Street Map is available, but it is largely neglected in US, most likely because Google Map is available and is "free". At the same time OSM is updated and loved in Europe, they say.

    So please make sure that your neighborhood [openstreetmap.org] is charted correctly, so we are prepared for when Google eventually turns ev
  • This [google.com] is the Hello World of Google Maps. If you check the source code you see that there are no API keys (it's Google Maps API V3) so what happens after a page like that is loaded for the 25,001th time in a day? Are they keeping track of all the HTTP Referers and count if a given domain has generated traffic over the free quota and eventually stop serving maps for it? They don't need to do it in realtime but that's going to be a big query and/or a big queue. I'd really like to know how they implemented it.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.