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Google drops cost of Maps API to keep developers, gives Foursquare puppy eyes (update: potentially cheaper)

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Google must be feeling the pinch from developers like Foursquare who've jumped ship from Google Maps in opposition to costs, as it just cut the price of heavy Maps API use in a big, big way. Where it used to cost $4 for every 1,000 map hits beyond a 25,000 daily limit, the company is now charging as little as $1 in addition to eliminating the lower usage cap for app writers who tweak the map look. The olive branch won't make Apple change its mind, of course, but Google clearly isn't keen on anyone else using the price tag as an incentive to join the exodus. Mountain View is no doubt eager to keep as many mobile and web app developers on its side as it can -- with Google I/O just around the corner, it wouldn't do to have customers leaving at the very moment Google is trying to rally support for a big Maps update.

Update: As some of you have pointed out the comments, it can get as low as 50 cents per 1,000 map loads. We've been using the API version 2 price as the baseline, but it's true that if you only need version 3 or one of the more limited static or Street View calls, you can pay half as much.

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