By Rebecca Burn-Callander Monday, 31 October 2011

Google Maps to charge 'heavy' users

As of January 2012, Google will charge businesses that pass a 25,000 daily 'hit' limit for the use of its Google Maps API service.

Websites that are likely to be hit by the ‘map tax’ include travel firms, hotel chains and big corporations that use Google Maps to direct customers to headquarters, destinations and tourist hotspots.

So, the question is, how much will companies pay for the map privilege? Word on the web is that Google will charge $4 per 1,000 views in excess of the daily limit.

Google denies reneging on its ‘do no evil’ mantra with the charge, insisting that it ‘will only affect 0.35% of users’. It has also given Google Maps users a two-month jump on the charge to allow high users to change supplier if necessary. ‘We understand that the introduction of these limits may be concerning,’ said Thor Mitchell, Google Maps product manager.

Google does have a history of imposing charges for high levels of app usage. Gmail customers looking to expand their mailboxes pay $5 for an extra 20GB of space (1TB costs $256).

Google argues that the charge will help to fund increased development of its Google Maps 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,’ says Mitchell.

Google's monetisation of the Maps app is evidence of further diversification away from traditional search revenues. Clever old Google is hedging its bets. Let's see what it slaps a price tag on next - 'pay a penny per search'?

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