In terms of mapping services, Google Maps is at the top of the pile. A dominant force in the market, it mirrors the power Google holds in Search. Rival companies (like Microsoft) have attempted to win users, but the majority still flock to Google Maps. However, there have been some recent openings that have allowed rival company Here to target Google's dominance.
Before continuing, I am certainly not suggesting Here is going to catch Google Maps anytime soon. Still, recent Maps changes have turned some core users away from Google and Here wants to snap them up.
Small businesses have been able to integrate Google Maps by embedding a map on their site. Recently, Google decided to bump the price to get API access to Maps. Fair enough, but worse was the company demanding users have a credit card and Google Cloud account to access APIs.
This was obviously a problem for users with neither of those requirements, or without a desire to give Google such deep access through a credit card. There's also the point that many users simply don't want to be forced into Google Cloud.
While it's probably not the kind of problem that will bring the Google Maps empire to its knees, it has caused an issue. For the first time, a significant group of users may be turned off by the service.
Hoping to capitalize on the situation is Here. The company has announced a new “freemium” plan. This model allows users more free transactions than Google Maps. More importantly, there is no credit card requirement and no lure towards a cloud service.
Most of us still remember Here as Nokia's maps service. These days it is owned by a consortium of German car manufacturers. Under the new freemium service, users will get 250,000 free transactions (page loads) per month. This provides aggressive competition to Google Maps, which allows 28,000 transactions.
It is worth noting developers would have had to pay Here $120 per month for that number before.