Google Maps Pricing Sends Real Estate Site to Open Source

In October Google announced pricing for its popular Google Maps API. Though most sites won't hit the free limits, those with a lot of traffic may be scrambling for a solution. That was the case for a New York real estate service, which discovered their bill would be $200,000 - $300,000 per year.

StreetEasy's Sebastian Delmont wrote about the company's experience in a Google Plus post:

25,000 free map views per day, and $4 per CPM (1,000 views) beyond that. On Christmas day, when everybody was opening their presents, we did ten times that. On a good day, we do 600K-700K pageviews.

We did the math and came up with numbers that reminded me of Oracle licensing in 1999. Six, seven, eight hundred thousand dollars. We met with Google salespeople, expecting to negotiate better terms, and they were nice, and they offered us discounts, but only to about half of what we've calculated.

In our opinion, their price was off by an order of magnitude.

The solution for StreetEasy was to go to open source tools, something that is becoming more common. Rolling your own mapping setup is getting much easier and gives a lot of flexibility in displaying maps. It's still far from being as easy as mapping APIs, but when there's a tradeoff like this, the development time will often pencil out.

Geo apps are still a hairy area where I expect most will want to build off someone else's expertise. And there are still many options, including the 25 JavaScript mapping APIs listed in our directory.

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: SimpleGeo APIs Closed, But Places Data is Open


Comments (10)

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hmmm...being a developer for a software service company, I wonder if they really did the math for going open source. I often hear about some of our potential customers "knowing a guy" who can write the app for them or deciding they can hire and do it in house, but it would be most likely a year before they were comparable in feature set to us, and by then we will have continued to innovate. So when you look at it that way, we are usually cheaper than hiring a dedicated dev staff.

I'm not saying it was a good or bad idea, but people often forget how much a good full time developer costs in terms of salary and benefits. You might get a good head start with open source tools, but someone has to maintain the code and update the code with new features.

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interesting post for a case study. 25K calls/day for a city specific real estate site is large. Perhaps the landing page showing map automatically is a contributor to the volume. Nevertheless good story.

See some hypotheticals here: The assumptions here probably don't reflect specific cases like streeteasy.

[...] has embraced the open maps movement. Russia&#8217;s biggest search engine integrates with the Topsy API. Plus: Disqus comments [...]

[...] While OpenStreetMap isn’t perfect, and there is still a lot of work to be done, it has come a long way toward creating an atlas of the entire world. Foursquare acknowledged that one of the reasons they chose to join the OpenStreetMap community is they’ve seen an increasing number of companies migrating from Google Maps. [...]