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OSM in demand as Google Maps charges hefty fees

San Francisco, US: Websites that used to incorporate Google Maps into their own pages are considering other options, claiming the search giant is charging hefty licensing fees (sometimes run into six figures), according to a report published in The New York Times. Now they are embracing OpenStreetMap (OSM), a user-contributed map service.

In October 2011, Google had announced that it would start charging fee from smaller sites hat generated more than 25,000 map views each day over 90 days. James Fee of WeoGeo said, “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.”

Earlier in February, Foursquare already announced to drop Google Maps and move to OSM, citing that Google’s price increases had prompted the change. Apple’s latest iPhoto app also uses OSM and Nestoria, a real-estate search engine, will also drop Google.

However, according to comScore, OSM 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 percent increase from the year before. MapQuest had 35 million hits, a 13 percent decrease. Microsoft’s Bing Maps came in third with 9 million users, an 18 percent increase.

Meanwhile, in an e-mail response, Google’s spokesman, Sean Carlson, wrote that the pricing “is intended to encourage responsible use” of the map data, and “secure its long-term future while ensuring that the vast majority of developers are unaffected.” He added that traffic and the number of sites using Google Maps had continued to grow since the pricing was announced.

Source: The New York Times