Google Maps is a wonderful worldwide mapping service. It provides excellent geographical details, and all its features are available for free, if you are a direct consumer of their mapping product, Google Maps. Google Maps also has an API for all of its mapping features like directions, traffic information and place information. However, Google has recently started charging developers for its API, and this has put it in a controversial position.
Bottin Cartographers is a provider of mapping services to many French companies, and it has been in this business for two decades. Bottin Cartographers accused Google Maps two years ago of killing competition, by offering a competitive service for free. Their argument was that Google Maps would drive out other players in this field, and then, once it captures the market with its free product, it will start charging its users. Finally, the court has ruled in favor of Bottin Cartographers, and Google has to pay a fine of 515,000 euros.
While Bottin Cartographers is only a provider of mapping services, Google has both a free Map service, and a map API for use by developers and other mapping services. However, it has recently started charging higher for its API, which gives meaning to Bottin Cartographers’ worries.
Google’s decision to increase charges for its API usage has also upset many developers, and services that used Google Maps. They are looking for Google Maps API alternatives, or considering building their own maps now.