Now that MapQuest is stepping out with some sharp new threads thanks to the release of 3.0 for iPhone last month, it really wants developers to try their hand at building maps with its API. To entice developers, MapQuest is offering up all of its geocoding and routing APIs to developers and businesses for free with unlimited access.
By signing up for MapQuest's free Community Edition license, developers will have unrestricted access to all of MapQuest's APIs. The change to MapQuest's licensing terms seems strategically planned since much news has been made recently about Google Maps changing their rates so as to charge smaller businesses for using its API. Google recently backpedaled on the decision and announced that it was dramatically reducing the usage fees for its APIs, but the exodus of developers and businesses had already begun.
MapQuest has also relaxed the terms dictating what developers can build with its API. Developers are now able to build paid mobile apps and can use SSL. MapQuest has also raised the limits on service calls and now offers 5,000 each of geocodes, routes, and search calls per day, which is actually twice what Google allows - well, for free, anyways.
Here's a chart MapQuest put together detailing the new free usage limits of the API.
As mentioned, Google Maps drastically reduced the cost of its new usage fees but it remains to be seen whether developers and businesses will continue to have a sour taste in their mouth and opt for other mapping services. OpenStreetMap and deCarta have already enjoyed an influx of new developers from Google Maps, so it's possible MapQuest could replicate that success as well. The only possibly snag to MapQuest's announcement is why it didn't make this decision sooner, like earlier this year or at least sometime that would have been sooner after Google Maps said it would begin charging more fees.
At any rate, it's still good news for anybody looking for a reliable and less costly alternative to Google Maps.[Via MapQuest Blog.]