REMINDER: Companies want to make money! Google is no exception...However, their recent decision to change the payment structure to their Google Maps API has left a bitter taste in most mouths, reminding us why having and maintaining good open source alternatives are vital!
The article that brought it to my attention at Geo Awesomeness sets out clearly what some of the major changes, are:
- The 18 individual APIs Google Maps currently offers are being consolidated into three broad segments – Maps, Routes, and Places. But, you wouldn’t need to make any changes in your existing code; it will work just fine.
- The Standard (no access to customer support) and Premium plans are being merged into one pay-as-you-go pricing plan. And the new fee structure is not pretty. Google is raising its prices by more than 1,400%. Obviously, no direct comparison figures of old and new prices have been provided by Google, but that’s the average surge that is being reported by developers.
- You can no longer use the APIs in the first place unless you create a billing account and hand-over your credit card information to Google. This is applicable to all users – even those who have a simple map embedded on their website’s contact page.
- You will get the first $200 of monthly usage for free. And that should be enough to cover the majority of users who have a simple map embedded on their website as mentioned above. But, for those who use Dynamic Maps, $200 will take care of only 28,000 free page loads per month. Why the emphasis on per month? Because right now, users get 25,000 free page loads per day. Let that sink in.
- As every dark cloud must have a silver lining, customer support is now going to be free for all.
- Google is protecting Android app developers from these changes by not charging for Mobile Native Static Maps and Mobile Native Dynamic Maps.
Why is this a problem? Google Maps have always depended on the support of its users to make it the app we now, in many ways, depend on! For the betterment of the collective users, many would spend their time obtaining and uploading opening times, phone numbers, pictures, etc. All done for free with the vague reassurance that it will always be a service we can depend on. How naive we have chosen to be...
These changes show that these companies do not care about you or your needs beyond how their action may effect you supporting their services or apps and their bottom line.
Imagine if for the last decade all of this effort was put into an open source service! We would have an incredibly dynamic, rich and open alternative that would never be subject to the changing winds of commercial interests.
That's my rant...What alternatives can you recommend?