Clearly looking for new ways to monetize services and diversify away from its traditional search revenue, Google has announced on its blog that starting January 2012 it is planning to charge businesses for the convenience of using its Google Maps services, when they pass a certain number of maps loads. Individual users won't be affected by this new fee, or what you could call a map 'tax". Only companies with a high usage of Google Maps loads or hits.
How will this work? The limit will be set at 25,000 daily 'loads per day" for each API, or up up to 2,500 map loads per day that have been modified using the Styled Maps feature. Styled Maps are basically customized Google Maps to match and integrate with an user's website.
Some 25,000 loads per day is heavy usage. So what kind of business may be affected?
My guess is various businesses in the food and beverages, and tourism and travel industries. Expedia, TripAdvisors, and Yelp for starters would most feel the impact of this new fee, but also transportations and conference organizers could be affected and slapped with a rude awakening.
Addressing concerns that is turning its back on the "Do No Evil mantra," Thor Mitchell, Google Maps product manager said on Google's blog, "We understand that the introduction of these limits may be concerning. But it will only affect 0.35% of users."
Indeed, a negligable amount of users. But why charge at all? Google is planning to use the additional revenue to expand and further develop its present technology. "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," said Mitchell.
How much will it cost?
Again, it will depend not only on a website's daily loads but also on what kind of Java script, it is using.
Google Maps' FAQ states that any company with an excess of 1,000 loads per the 25,000 limit will be charged from $4 to $8, to $10, depending on which type of license and Java script is used.
As of now, neither AOL's Mapquest or YahooMaps have made plans to start charging its heavy users. Maybe, a good opportunity for them to collect some of the Google Maps' soon-to-be discontents.
Google was not available for comment.