Google has released a bunch of new maps-related products: Google Earth 4, a new version of 3D graphics tool SketchUp, support for geocoding in Google Maps, and my personal favorite Google Maps for Enterprise. According to the official Google Blog, the Enterprise edition of Google Maps offers:
"...a fee-based service and support for businesses that want to embed a Google Maps experience in their websites or internal applications. It leverages the Google Maps API to enable businesses to map customer locations, track shipments, manage facilities or view any other data source in a geographic context."
The Enterprise customers will in future choose whether or not advertising is displayed Google Enterprise Blog has more information on this. Also see the FAQ, which notes that pricing starts at $10,000 and is "based on the number of calls to the Google Maps for Enterprise API". This enables businesses to use Google Maps for commercial use for internal and external applications. According to Google, this fee also covers implementation guidance and telephone/email support. Businesses can however take it for a trial run first, before deciding whether to pony up the cash. Also noteworthy is that Google Maps for Enterprise is only available for now in the US and Canada.
Advertising may become a feature of the product in the future, but enterprise customers will be able to choose whether or not ads will be displayed. However Google notes: "we hope you find it so useful that you choose to include it". This to me points to what I believe to be Google's long-term enterprise strategy - utilizing its leading online advertising platform inside the firewall. It remains to be seen whether that pans out, but I thought it was an interesting little comment in the FAQ that Google hopes enterprises find the advertising feature "so useful that you choose to include it".
Finally, Yahoo must be feeling the heat because tonight it decided to lift the commercial restrictions from the Yahoo! Maps APIs (previously you had to apply for an exception). The Yahoo Maps team notes:
"Until today, the APIs were available only for non-commercial use unless you applied for an exception. The concept of commercial and non-commercial has gone away and exceptions are no longer necessary in most cases. We have given you explicit Usage Policies to help guide you."
This opens up Yahoo Maps to a similar degree to the Google Maps API, which is free to use in "any web site that is free to consumers". It'll be interesting to see if Yahoo follows suit with an enterprise maps product too. Google seems to be leading the charge in mapping and geo products at this point in time.