Google has just announced that it is lowering Maps API usage fees and simplifying limits for both Styled and regular maps.
The new online pricing structure dropped from $4 per 1,000 map loads to 50 cents per 1,000 map loads. Quite a big difference. For reference, the Maps API itself remains free for the vast majority of sites.
To also simplify matters, Mountain View, Calif.-based Google is consolidating its classifications for Maps. The company is eliminating the previous distinction between Styled Maps and regular unstyled maps. Thus, the same usage limits and rates will apply for apps using either Styled Maps or the default Google Maps style.
Thor Mitchell, a product manager for the Google Maps API team, explained on the Google Geo Developers blog that Google will start monitoring Maps API usage regularly immediately.
We aren't automating the application of these limits, so if your site consistently uses more than the free maps allowance we'll contact you to discuss your options. Please rest assured that your map will not stop working due to a sudden surge in popularity.
Based on current usage rates, Google estimates that the new fees will apply only to the top 0.35 percent of sites regularly exceeding the published limits of 25,000 map loads every day for 90 consecutive days.
For sites that are afraid they might go over the limit, it also might be time to consider the specific Google Maps API for Business, which is the enterprise option with technical support, a service level agreement, and additional benefits. There's also a nonprofit organization solution too.
This item first appeared on ZDNet's Between the Lines blog.