You may remember that Google some time ago announced that they would start to charge for Google Map api calls above a certain level (see Google Introduces Google Maps Api Limits). Usage limit was capped to either 25,000 or 2,500 per day depending on the data used, and companies that went beyond that were asked to pay between $4 and $10 for every 1,000 map loads.
Foursquare, the location-based social networking site, announced two days ago that they have switched from using Google Maps to power its service to OpenStreetMap. The company notes that while things may look a “tiny bit different” now, it is practically still the same service.
The motivation to look elsewhere was not only fueled by Google’s introduction of a tiered pricing structure for Google Map API calls, but also from the observation that a number of companies migrated away from Google Maps after the announcement was made
The company knew that they had to find a way to make the OpenStreetMap data usable with their service first, and they turned to MapBox for that. MapBox Streets launched at the end of February, is now powering all FourSquare maps.
The move does not affect Foursquare on mobile phones though, as the service is using the mapping components integrated into the phones. This means that Foursquare users on Android or iOS will still use Google Maps.
Most users, at least those who commented on the Foursquare blog, seem to embrace the move. Superusers on the other hand criticize the move as it makes it more difficulty for them to do their job.
Google’s move to charge for Google Maps api calls has forced companies to move away from the mapping service to find free, or cheaper, alternatives. Foursquare is not the first company to ditch Google Maps. StreetEasy, Nestoria and Fubra are just some of the companies who made the decision to move away from Google Maps. The main motivation to do so? Money of course.