Google Maps Product Manager Thor Mitchell:
As you may know, last year we introduced limits on the number of free maps that developers could show daily through the Google Maps API. Since then, we’ve been listening carefully to feedback, and today we’re happy to announce that we’re lowering API usage fees and simplifying limits for both Styled and regular maps.
“Since then” — let’s be clear, that happened in October of last year. In the eight months since then, what has changed? Not much beyond a little company called Apple entering the space.
I’ve talked to a lot of developers over the past several months — not one of them can understand why Google made these changes in the first place. It led big startups like Foursquare to abandon Google Maps on the web. Even with the high rates, it can’t be a huge amount of money for Google relative to their overall revenues.
But still, they did not make this change until after Apple maps were unveiled. And they didn’t just cut prices, they slashed them by 8x. 8x!
Update: One reason for the price change initially was apparently spam. As in, Google thought that by charging sites for heavy usage, they’d cut back on the “Live Nude Girls in Houston!!!” embedded map ads. Still, it’s not clear how they couldn’t see the downside for big *real* partners.