Google Maps Exodus Continues As Wikipedia Mobile Apps Switch To OpenStreetMap | Techdirt

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Last year, Google announced that it would begin charging high-volume users for access to its previously free Maps API. It seemed like an odd move.

Jacking up the price on something, without actually offering anything new to entice customers to stay, only works if you have a total monopoly—and free competitor OpenStreetMap was already growing rapidly at the time.

The real lesson here is that there’s never an incumbent that isn’t at risk of being unseated, no matter how widespread the adoption of their product or service—especially if they make an anti-customer decision like Google when it put a price tag on Maps. The situation also points to the long-term strength of open solutions: while a crowdsourced system like OpenStreetMap never could have put together a global mapping product as quickly as Google did, over time it has become a serious competitor in terms of both quality and convenience. Indeed, none of the companies that have switched pointed to the price as their number one reason—potentially superior quality, and the desire to support open data, are generally listed as significant factors. Location-based tools are a rapidly growing field, and by failing to stay ahead of their more open competitors (while becoming less open themselves), Google may have sacrificed their role as a crucial engine driving such services.

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