Undoubtedly one of Google’s most popular and useful API’s is Google Maps. Historically Google Maps’ API has been available for free, allowing developers to build mapping applications as they please with no usage restrictions.

However, on Wednesday last week, Google changed this by applying costs and limitations to the Maps API – something it announced it was going to do earlier in the year.

These restrictions come in the form of usage limits, with those using the Google Maps API being limited to 25,000 map loads per day, or 2,500 map loads per day for Styled Maps.

Those who’s applications exceed those limits have 3 options;

  • Reduce usage limits – developers can essentially ‘cap’ the number of map loads per day to ensure they don’t go over the limits set by Google.
  • Pay a fee for excess usage – developers can opt to pay for the excess loads their applications receive, above the stated maximum. Fees range from $4 for every 1,000 excess loads over the 25,000 daily limit for a JavaScript Maps API v3 and $8 for an additional 1,000 loads for a JavaScript Maps API v3 styled map. You can see a full pricing list on Google’s FAQ page.
  • Purchase a Maps API Premier License – For ‘popular’ sites that receive a lot of traffic, Google suggests that this may be the most cost-effective option. This also comes with a number of other benefits including, tech support, a service level agreement and fixed invoicing. For exact costs, you will need to contact Google’s sales team.

It should be noted at this point that simply embedding Google Maps into a site is still free, so if this is something you’re currently doing, you needn’t worry.

Google will also give you 30 days notice before billing you for excess fees. This ‘heads up’ will be posted on Google’s Geo Developers Blog, so keep your eyes peeled.

Those using Google’s Maps API will no doubt have their concerns, but as Google Maps API Product Manager, Thor Mitchell, explains;

“with the continued growth in adoption of the Maps API 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. By introducing these limits we are ensuring that Google can continue to offer the Maps API for free to the vast majority of developers for many years to come.”

What do you think? Greedy on Google’s part, or a justified fee for a good service?