Google to charge for Maps service
Heaviest users of its links to pay for excessive usage from beginning of 2012
Companies that use Google Maps' link service could find themselves facing large bills after the web firm announced it will start charging for heavy usage from the beginning of next year.
The new charges, which are due to come into force from January 1st 2012, will see companies that exceed more than 25,000 hits per day faced with paying a fee - rumoured to be around $4 per each 1,000 additional clicks - or their link removed for the remainder of the day.
In an effort to calm fears of small to medium businesses - many of whom rely heavily on the service - Google said it expects the charges to impact only around 0.35% of its users.
The service is unlikely to impact many businesses based in the Middle East, but there is a risk that some industries, such as the travel and tourism sector, could be hit harder than others.
Google said it was announcing the changes now so as to give developers time to consult with their clients, and to allow time to effect any changes should they want to avoid charges.
"We understand that the introduction of these limits may be concerning," said Thor Mitchell, product manager of Google's Maps API service - the technology that underlies the link service.
"However with the continued growth in adoption of the Maps API we need to secure its long term future by ensuring that even when used by the highest volume for-profit sites, the service remains viable," he added. "By introducing these limits we are ensuring that Google can continue to offer the Maps API for free to the vast majority of developers for many years to come."