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Google cuts Maps API price by 88%

Google has announced a dramatic reduction in the fees it introduced last October for use of the Google Maps API.

Foursquare revealed in March that it would discontinue its use of Google Maps and rely on OpenStreetMap instead, and two weeks ago Apple announced its own Maps app for iOS6.

In a blog post on Friday, Google Maps API Product Manager Thor Mitchell estimated that the new fee of 50 cents per 1,000 map loads would only be paid by a tiny minority of sites: "We’re beginning to monitor Maps API usage starting today, and, based on current usage, fees will only apply to the top 0.35 per cent of sites regularly exceeding the published limits of 25,000 map loads every day for 90 consecutive days."

He also pointed out that developers can make money from their app: "You can generate revenue from your Maps API application using AdSense for Maps, which enables you to display relevant ads on or alongside your map."

Rik Lomas of Lomalogue told us he thinks it's a smart move: "I think it's great that Google have reduced their price but it's not unexpected. The previous pricing structure was far too high, even for companies with billions in the bank like Apple, so it wasn't surprising to see smaller companies like Foursquare moving to other providers such as Bing or OpenStreetMap.

"It makes sense that Google should charge for their high quality mapping service, it's the best out there, but they will only get customers if their pricing is reasonable."