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11/20/2009
01:48 PM
John Foley
John Foley
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The Million-Dollar Google Maps API

The U.S. government's Apps.gov Web site provides new visibility into what federal agencies pay for cloud-based applications and commercial software, with offerings from vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, Jive, Microsoft, and Salesforce.com. One of the priciest products on the site: Google's Maps API, which lists for nearly a million dollars.

The U.S. government's Apps.gov Web site provides new visibility into what federal agencies pay for cloud-based applications and commercial software, with offerings from vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, Jive, Microsoft, and Salesforce.com. One of the priciest products on the site: Google's Maps API, which lists for nearly a million dollars.As I wrote earlier this week, there are dozens of software products on Apps.gov that license for more than $1 million, including an ERP module from Carahsoft Technology that goes for $24 million.

Google's Maps API comes in at just under $1 million. It's available from Onix Networking for $966,448. That covers unlimited site traffic for Web applications that make use of the API, plus support from Onix Networking, an IT vendor that resells Google products (Google Apps, Google Earth, Enterprise Search, Maps, and more), as well as wares from other tech vendors.

Onix offers Google's Maps API in several licensing options. For $966,448, a federal agency or department can use the Google Maps API Premier version for unlimited page views for a year on a public-facing Web site. There's a similar annual license at the same price for internal apps, and less expensive licenses for government sites with lower page-view requirements. For example, a license for 250 million page views goes for $483,000, or about a penny for every five clicks.

Is this a good deal for Uncle Sam? Well, Google's standard Maps API is free, while the Premier version starts at $10,000. Premier comes with advanced geocoding, encryption, control over advertising, an SLA, and other features designed for large users. This chart compares Google's standard and premier Maps APIs.

It's unclear what services Onix Networking provides as part of the license agreement or how the prices on Apps.gov compare to what customers outside of government pay for the same API. The obvious question is whether the feds are getting a good deal, an OK deal, or overpaying for the Google Maps API. I found one reference to the cost of Google's Map API Premier in the blogophere, which put an unlimited license at $250,000, or a quarter of Onix Networking's price, but that example is now more than a year old.

Apps.gov may hold a clue. The site blocks the purchase of the $966,448 API with the message, "You may contact the vendor to negotiate better prices."



InformationWeek and Dr. Dobb's have published an in-depth report on how Web application development is moving to online platforms. Download the report here (registration required).

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