Google Maps Losing Market Share

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Both Apple and Foursquare have now officially stopped using Google Maps as their mapping source for apps.  Foursquare dropped Google Maps from its Web-based offering and then Apple dropped it for its iPhoto for iOS features.  Smaller businesses and startups are foregoing Google’s mapping app in favor of others, like the open-source, crowd-sourced OpenStreetMap.

Why?  Google Maps has become the way nearly all of us interact with mapping of almost any kind online.  While our GPS systems for our cars and such are usually from one of the big three in mapping (TeleNav, Tele Atlas / TomTom, Navteq), if it’s on the Web or connected to it, it’s probably using Gooogle.

Until recently.  The reason many are shying away from Google Maps is simple: it’s no longer free to use in apps and it now pushes advertising, even through uses outside of the Google website.

This means that apps which use Google Maps must pay for the privilege.  There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, and the threshold to be required to do this is relatively high (25,000 map loads per day), but it’s a concern for many apps built on the premise that Maps would be free from Google.

About the time the 90-day grace period to roll in the new charges for mapping came (last week), Apple and Foursquare left the service.  Others will probably follow in the coming weeks.

Google obviously has an advantage in that their the go-to spot for mapping now and have some of the most sophisticated and thorough maps available on the Web.  Most of its real competition is also charging for access to maps and many of them do not offer the features and capabilities that Google’s API does.

So until crowd-sourced options like OpenStreetMap reach a level where they can compete with Google, it’s not likely that Google will lose huge chunks of market share.  But it will (and has been) lose some of the more high-profile users of Maps, which may affect how the public perceives Google’s service.


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