Google Maps API change hits company pockets

Published on the 21/06/2018 | Written by Heather Wright


Google Maps Metlink treasure hunt

3,000 percent cost increases reported…

Local companies are among those caught out by a massive price increase to use Google Maps API products, which are now billed under a single pay-as-you-go pricing plan.

While early reports on Google’s revamp of its Maps business, announced in May, flagged an increase of around 1,400 percent for some, Wellington public transport provider Metlink is one of many now digesting the increase – in its case nearly a 3,000 percent increase in its Google Maps fees.

The company uses Maps for its travel information and planning service for customers, and serving the population of a medium-sized city means traffic is around two million calls per month.

“We thought carefully about how to price Google Maps Platform products.”

Metlink today declined to comment further on the impact of the increased charges, saying it is ‘subject to commercial negotiations’, however the company had earlier told media that it was facing an increase from US$1,000 to US$30,000 a month.

When the changes were announced a month ago, they prompted an outcry from users, with one noting on Reddit that their yearly cost would increase from US$10,000 to US$200,000-plus based on existing usage. The Maps API products are used by thousands of businesses globally who use embedded maps on their sites or apps.

The changes saw Google streamline its 18 individual APIs into three core products – Maps, Routes and Places, and providing ‘simple, easy to understand pricing that gives you access to all our core APIs’. Access to online support is now also included.

The first US$200 of monthly usage is free, with Google saying this will cover monthly usage for ‘most’ companies.

The free monthly usage covers up to 100,000 static map loads, or up to 28,000 dynamic map loads.

A statement from Google A/NZ said that the customer experience, quality of core API products, the $200 monthly credit and free support ‘offer immense value’.

“We don’t just offer basic map tiles. We offer real-time data that’s constantly changing and allowing our customers to provide real-time, real-world experiences to their end users,” the statement said.

“We know change is hard, but our plans and pricing were adjusted as we updated our product offerings, improved the overall experience and to reflect current market conditions. We thought carefully about how to price Google Maps Platform products and introduced the free tier, which is a US$200 credit and covers the usage of most of our customers.”

Android app developers are spared the price increases and won’t be charged for mobile native static maps and mobile native dynamic maps.

Among the outraged, Melbourne-based e-commerce developer Alexander Levashov has taken the initiative to create a listing of alternatives to the Google Maps API, along with their respective pricing.

Metlink said it was only informed of the changes on Monday, saying the late notice – the changes will come into force for the company in July – meant it hasn’t had time to prepare to move to a new mapping service.

In contrast, Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan was reported in Stuff saying it was not impacted as AT used an open-source mapping service, ESRI/Open Streetmaps (which is also used for public transport route planning in Sydney).

No doubt, inter-city relations will be warmed as the Wellingtonians scramble to find a solution.

 

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