Were you surprised to see that Google Maps was no longer being used on Foursquare's web offerings or iPhoto for iOS? The surprise move, especially because Google Maps is an unusually useful application, is based on one primary reason -- Google is now charging for its use.
According to Digital Trends, Google let companies using its Google Maps app know what was going to happen late last year:
The hammer truly dropped in October 2011, when Google finally revealed pricing for Google Maps services. Lightweight usage was still free — subject to terms of service, of course. However, significant load volumes would begin to incur charges: basically, services and applications that generated more 25,000 map loads per day would be charged $40 to $10 for every additional 1,000 map loads. For folks using styled maps — the most intensive and customized option — the initial threshold is 2,500 maps per day.
With prices like that it's not surprising that Foursquare and penny-pinching Apple decided against using Google's app. However, are there any other free apps that are just as good? Apple and Foursquare are now using OpenStreetMap, a British import that uses volunteers to create its maps -- a kind of map Wikipedia.
Is that as good as an app that uses billions of dollars in digital mapping technology? Oh, hell no. However, Apple and Foursquare haven't totally given up on Google Maps -- it can still be used on the iOS and Foursquare, just not on iPhoto and the Web, respectively -- but we expect they will as soon as they find an alternative. Apple has billions of dollars to burn and is likely working on its own mapping application, but until then users will have to be satisfied with a substandard free app.