Google recently announced that their Maps API will not be free for everyone. In a nutshell, if one has an API that makes less then 25k map loads then its still free otherwise, you have 3 options: 1) scale down the usage (probably impossible if you’re business does mapping for a business), 2) enrol for automated billing in excess of the 25k which is $4 per 1k loads or purchase a Map’s Premier API at $10k a year (plus extra charges after a certain number of loads — couldn’t other info other than that). This means that companies like Apple will begin paying Google for their services (iPhone, iPods and iPads uses the Google Map API for the map app).
Any revenues from Apple will be short-lived though as Apple has been silently working on its own mapping service in the last couple of years and recently purchased C3 Technologies, a cutting-edge 3D mapping technology provider. Using multiple satellite images, C3 is able to render terrain and man-made structures into 3-dimensional objects. This is in contrast with existing methods where the use of CAD and 3D software is utilized to manually create the objects, a tedious process. The result? much more realistic buildings, smoother rendering and very pervasive 3D maps.
Judge for yourself:
So why invest in a mapping service? aside from navigation, Apple can begin selling advertising on their virtual 3D world (ala secondlife). Looking forward to iMaps in my iPhone in 2013 =)