More and more websites are opting to bypass Google Maps, as the company established fees for even smaller users, starting last October. According to a comScore report, of the 91.7 million people in the U.S. who used an online map in February, 71% used Google Maps. In the last seven years, Google, offering street maps, satellite photos and street-level views, has become the dominant player - but this might change, due to fees that it charges in certain instances.
Many sites incorporate Google Maps into their content, and Google has been charging the largest users for a long while - with some fees hitting six figures annually. But last fall, smaller sites, those generating an average of 25,000 map views per day within the same quarter were also hit with fees. James Fee of WeoGeo states, "Google says it will affect a very small number of users, but I have heard it will touch 30 or 40 percent of people who really depend on maps for their business. It could cost you tens of thousands of dollars a month.”
In February, Foursquare, the social media location service, said it would drop Google Maps and move to OpenStreetMap, a user-contributed map service, citing that Google's price increases had prompted the change. Apple's latest iPhoto app also uses Openstreetmap, and Nestoria, a real-estate search engine, will also leave Google.
Still, according to comScore, OpenStreetMap doesn't presently generate much web traffic, but with the backing of companies like Foursquare, this will likely change. Google Maps had 65 million users in February, a 16% increase from the year before. MapQuest had 35 million hits, a 13% decrease. Microsoft’s Bing Maps came in third with 9 million users, an 18% increase.
Google's Sean Carlson states that the pricing “is intended to encourage responsible use” of the map data, and to “secure its long-term future while ensuring that the vast majority of developers are unaffected.” He also noted that traffic and the number of sites using Google Maps had risen since the pricing was put into place.