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Google slashes price 88% for using Google Maps API

Shortly after Apple dumped Google Maps for iOS, Google announces it's time to dramatically cut the price for others using the online service. Google also gives a plug for its map-based ad service.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
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Earlier this month, Google revealed that it hopes to improve its Google Maps 3D feature by equipping planes with its own hardware and having them take oblique image photos. Josh Lowensohn

Google has announced an 88 percent price cut for those using Google Maps on high-traffic Web sites and services.

The move, which Google Maps API product manager Thor Mitchell announced yesterday, comes a few days before the developer-oriented Google I/O show and two weeks after Apple ditched Google Maps for the upcoming iOS 6.

Google I/O 2012 logo

Google lets others embed Google Maps on their own sites and services through the Google Maps API, or application programming interface. When Google announced new limits to Google Maps usage last October, Mitchell said at the time, "We need to secure its long-term future by ensuring that even when used by the highest volume for-profit sites, the service remains viable."

But other factors entered into the viability equation. Apple is the highest-profile defection, but there have been others, too, as Web sites dumped Google Maps because of high prices and put their weight behind the OpenStreetMap project instead, Google evidently took note.

"We've been listening carefully to feedback, and today we're happy to announce that we're lowering API usage fees and simplifying limits," Mitchell said. "While the Maps API remains free for the vast majority of sites, some developers were worried about the potential costs. In response, we have lowered the online price from US $4 per 1,000 map loads to 50 cents per 1,000 map loads."

Yes, that's a factor of eight cheaper. Mitchell added:

We're beginning to monitor Maps API usage starting today, and, based on current usage, fees will only apply to the top 0.35 percent of sites regularly exceeding the published limits of 25,000 map loads every day for 90 consecutive days. 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.

Mitchell also pointed to another service that may have changed Google's thinking: map-based ads that turn its mapping service into a money maker.

"You can generate revenue from your Maps API application using AdSense for Maps, which enables you to display relevant ads on or alongside your map. As with AdSense's text-based ads, the publisher gets some of the resulting ad revenue -- and Google keeps the rest.

Via Daring Fireball.