Ever since Google introduced limits to how often developers could ping its popular Maps API for free and started charging developers for usage above these limits, we’ve seen a slew of prominent developers like Foursquare switch over to other platforms, including the open-source project OpenStreetMap. Now, it looks like Google has noticed that it couldn’t keep charging up to $4 for 1,000 map loads above its free allowance. Instead, the company just announced that it is massively lowering its pricing to just $0.50 per 1,000 map loads.
As before, Google will start charging developers once they exceed the free usage limit of 25,000 map loads per day for 90 consecutive days. According to Google, only about 0.35% of sites currently exceed these limits regularly. Also just like before, Google doesn’t automatically enforce these limits but will contact developers who regularly exceed them to discuss their options. This, says Google, ensures that your site will not stop working “due to a sudden surge in popularity.”
In addition to these price cuts, Google is eliminating the distinction it used to make between styled maps and unstyled maps. Styled maps, which developers can tweak according to their preferences, previously had lower free usage limits (2,500 loads per day) and higher prices for users who went beyond 25,000 map loads per day.
It’s probably no surprise that Google is making this announcement just a few days before its annual Google I/O developers conference is about to start. The original pricing changes, after all, created quite a bit of unease in the Google developer community and with this topic out of the way, the company won’t have to face more questions about this topic.