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Apple releases MapKit JS just as Google Maps pricing about to change

Starting July 16, the cost of using Google Maps at scale will increase substantially, so perhaps it’s no coincidence that Apple quietly introduced MapKit JS amidst last week’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

In the MapKit JS beta period, users get 250k instantiations and 25k services calls for free, per day.

In the new Google Maps pricing, users get 100k instantiations for free per month. However, all users are eligible to receive a $200 credit each month for Maps usage, making the effective pricing more difficult to understand. But for comparison purposes, instantiating 250k * 30 map instances (7,500k instantiations) would break into costs as follows:

  • 7,500k instantiations – 100k free instantiations = 7,400 instantiations
  • First 100k at $7 = $700 – $200 credit = $500. 7,300 instantiations remaining.
  • Next 400k at $5.60 = $2,240. 6,900 instantiations remaining.
  • After first 500k instantiations, enterprise pricing becomes available.

Based on this analysis, switching to MapKit JS could introduce thousands of dollars in monthly savings compared to using the Google API.

Although Apple has underplayed MapKit JS so far, you can sense that they understand how disruptive the pricing might be from this WWDC slide sequence:

That said, the MapKit JS implementation is slightly more involved than Google Maps, requiring that a JSON Web Token be created server-side, as opposed to Google, which can accept a base64-encoded private key. Google offers additional IP and domain-based protection to prevent other sites from using your API key.

Confused about what an instantiation is? Here’s how Google describes it:

A single map load is charged when any of the following occur:

– A web page or application displays a map using the Maps JavaScript API.
– An application requests a single map image from the Maps Static API.

See an example of MapKits JS in action here.

It’s very possible that I’m missing a key assumption or two in this modeling, but if the pricing differences are even close to the scenario presented above, we are witnessing a tectonic shift in maps as service.

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