Google announced on Friday it is reducing the price it charges companies for using its popular Maps API after they reach a certain limit, from $4 per 1,00 map loads to just 50 cents. The move is in response to a growing number of companies that have been switching over to other services such as the open source project OpenStreetMap.org. The limit for free downloads of Google Maps will remain at 25,000 per day, and will only be charged to developers who exceed the limit for 90 straight days. According to Google, only 0.35% of companies using the Google Maps API exceed the free usage limits on a regular basis.
Also as before, the Mountain View, California search giant will not automatically begin charging companies when they exceed the free limit, but contacts companies who surpass it on a regular basis to discuss their options. This policy helps prevent companies from being charged for a sudden, temporary surge in website popularity, Google claims. In addition to significantly reducing its charge for the Google Maps API, Google is also doing away with the distinction between styled and unstyled maps. Under the old system, styled maps had significantly lower free usage limits (just 2,500 loads per day).