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TomTom is the latest maps and navigation platform to capitalize on Google Maps’ recent API changes, after the Dutch company opened up free access to some features for developers through its mobile software development kit (SDK).
While TomTom offers its own suite of consumer-focused mapping products, including mobile apps, the company also monetizes by licensing its maps and related navigation features for third parties to integrate into their own devices and applications. Prices vary depending on factors such as how many transactions (requests made to TomTom’s servers from an end user’s device) are made on a daily basis. TomTom does offer 2,500 free transactions per day, after which developers pay — starting at $25 per 50,000 transactions.
TomTom’s current free quota isn’t really enough for a developer with serious ambitions in the mobile app realm, which is why the company’s now upgrading its mobile SDK to give free access to TomTom maps and traffic information, without limitations, on Android and iOS devices. However, if a developer wants to integrate more useful features, such as routing or searches, they will be tethered to the usual pricing tiers.
The timing of this announcement is notable, coming just a few months after Google announced major changes to the Google Maps API, including consolidating its APIs into just three core products, restructuring its pricing into a single pay-as-you-go plan, and requiring a credit card and billing account for all API access. The changes, which went into effect in June, raised some ire in the developer community, where many argued they would end up paying much more.
TomTom is one of the internet’s major mapping platforms, alongside the likes of Google Maps and Here Technologies — indeed, just last month Here also launched a new freemium plan for developers. While TomTom hasn’t commented on the motives behind this launch, it’s pretty clear that both TomTom and Here are trying to capitalize on outrage in the developer realm.
While TomTom’s free plan does have notable limitations in terms of functionality — developers won’t be able to access turn-by-turn navigation, for example — the free tier will tempt more developers to give the offering a go, at which point it will be easier to convert them into paying customers.
Some use cases will be served pretty well without developers having to worry about adding additional features. Apps that offer store locator maps or travel information that requires real-time traffic data will be able to tap into TomTom’s platform without paying a penny.
And as with Here, TomTom won’t require such businesses to provide a credit card up front.
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