Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Newsonomics: Seizing the Brexit-Trump moment, the Murdochs bid for Sky
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Oct. 27, 2011, 11:40 a.m.

Have a popular Google Maps mashup? Prepare to pay

The search giant will start charging for its popular API, driver of countless news mapping mashups.

Watch out journalists: Just because something is free today doesn’t mean it will be free tomorrow.

Google announced last night in a blog post that the Google Maps API will no longer be free for everyone to use. A developer that generates more than the prescribed limit — 25,000 map views a day in most cases — will have to pay up. The price varies on how you use the API, but will range from $4 to $10 for every 1,000 map views beyond the limit. (You can also buy a Google Maps API Premier license — those start at $10,000 a year.)

It’s hard to complain too much about a company charging for its services — well, at least it’s hard for news companies to complain when they’re busy putting up paywalls of their own. But data-oriented journalists will be among the people most impacted by this change, since map mashups using Google Maps data have been a big part of the field since chicagocrime.org (which evolved into EveryBlock) debuted back in 2005. Whenever you see a map mashed up with a set of local data on a news site, there’s a very good chance it was built with the Google Maps API.

The news has sent the news developer universe looking for other options:

Megan Hoyer at The Virginian-Pilot: “Trying to figure out how much the Google Maps API issue will cost us. My initial read: Quite a bit. #ouch”

Ben Welsh at The Los Angeles Times: “V2 maps will cost double? Hilarious.”

Jeremy Bowers at The Washington Post: “Guess we’ll be building a map stack. #tilemill”

Brian Boyer at The Chicago Tribune: “Time to switch!”

Bing and Yahoo both offer map APIs, and there are open source options available. But for news organizations that had been relying on Google’s service for map products, it’s time to scramble — either to free up some money in the budget or to search for an alternative. Google says it will “begin enforcing the usage limits in early 2012.”

POSTED     Oct. 27, 2011, 11:40 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Newsonomics: Seizing the Brexit-Trump moment, the Murdochs bid for Sky
Are we entering a new age of digital robber barons?
When 9.4 million followers isn’t enough: NBC News will shut down the Breaking News app on Dec. 31
“Experiments eventually need to sustain themselves and in this case, despite every effort, we just weren’t able to get there,” said Nick Ascheim of NBC News, which owns Breaking News.
The Wall Street Journal is confident its “bendier” paywall will draw the paying readers it needs to survive
Despite a bad fall shadowed by news about ad revenue declines and layoffs, the Journal has ridden what seems to be a post-election wave of interest in paid media. It’s counting on changes in paywall strategy to bring in even more digital subscribers.