Most users (and many businesses) think of Google as an endless source of great free stuff, but that may be coming to an end as the company starts charging for heavy usage of its Maps API service.

Off the Map?

Companies whose sites provide access to Google Maps (usually in the guise of a "find this business" tool) for more than 25,000 users a day will be charged from the start of next year for accesses beyond that number. Google insists a modest fee will only hit a tiny fraction of its API users (some 0.35% at current usage rates) and presumably those sizes of organizations are more than able to pay up.

The news was announced on the Google Geo developers' blog, via a change in the terms of service, which was informally announced earlier in the year. Google is upselling its Maps API premier as one solution, or companies can lower their usage, or just pay the toll 

gmaps_prices.jpg

While end users won't be affected, many companies that rely on Google services might take a look at what apps they use from the web giant, and start to think whether they would still use them if charges started appearing for them.

The more suspicious Google users will be asking themselves whether this the start of a new process in which Google tries to start monetizing its other services in similar ways. Certainly, if Google is looking at other areas to charge for, it will be a slow and gradual process, so as not to spook us natives, but let us know if you spot another charge in some other backwater of Google's many blogs.