Foursquare Ditches Google Maps, Goes Open With OpenStreetMap

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 2, 2012
Updated • Feb 26, 2014
Google Maps, Internet

You may remember that Google some time ago announced that they would start to charge for Google Map api calls above a certain level (see Google Introduces Google Maps Api Limits).

Usage limit was capped to either 25,000 or 2,500 per day depending on the data used, and companies that went beyond that were asked to pay between $4 and $10 for every 1,000 map loads.

Foursquare, the location-based social networking site, announced two days ago that they have switched from using Google Maps to power its service to OpenStreetMap.

The company notes that while things may look a "tiny bit different" now, it is practically still the same service.

The motivation to look elsewhere was not only fueled by Google's introduction of a tiered pricing structure for Google Map API calls, but also from the observation that a number of companies migrated away from Google Maps after the announcement was made

The company knew that they had to find a way to make the OpenStreetMap data usable with their service first, and they turned to MapBox for that. MapBox Streets launched at the end of February, is now powering all FourSquare maps.

The move does not affect Foursquare on mobile phones though, as the service is using the mapping components integrated into the phones. This means that Foursquare users on Android or iOS will still use Google Maps.

Most users, at least those who commented on the Foursquare blog, seem to embrace the move. Superusers on the other hand criticize the move as it makes it more difficulty for them to do their job.

Google's move to charge for Google Maps api calls has forced companies to move away from the mapping service to find free, or cheaper, alternatives. Foursquare is not the first company to ditch Google Maps. StreetEasy, Nestoria and Fubra are just some of the companies who made the decision to move away from Google Maps. The main motivation to do so? Money of course.


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  1. Jojo said on March 2, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    I’m finding Bing maps to be be a better solution than Google maps. They seem to come up faster. I like their satellite views better also.

    Even on my 6Mbs connection, I always seem to have to wait for Google to SLOWLY paint those blocks it breaks its maps into.

  2. Morely the IT Guy said on March 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Dear Foursquare Users,
    Please keep “checking in” so I know when you’re not home and how long I can expect you to be gone. It makes my job so much easier when I can plan ahead!
    Your Burglar

  3. Robert Palmar said on March 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Out of curiosity it put my street address only
    into OpenStreetMap and my location was
    missing out of dozens of entries.

    In Google Maps my address was the first answer.
    I live in New York, Manhattan, and it should be first.

    I did eventually find my address in OpenStreetMap
    after first adding New York, which was not enough,
    and then finally zip code which found it placing it last.

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