Google hints at plans to monetize mapping api

Yesterday, Google announced Google Maps for Enterprise (US an Canada only right now). Since i was alsways wondering what Google’s plan were to monetize Google maps i had a look into the FAQ:

Q: Will Google Maps for Enterprise incorporate advertising?
A: If and when advertising is displayed on Google Maps, you will have the option to enable (or disable) any advertising in Google Maps for Enterprise at your discretion.

Q: What is the cost of Google Maps for Enterprise?
A: Pricing for Google Maps for Enterprise is based on the number of page views and geocode requests handled by the Google Maps for Enterprise API and starts at $10,000 per year. Please contact us for more information.

Q: Why would I pay for Google Maps for Enterprise if the Google Maps API is free?
A: Google Maps for Enterprise offers several features worth paying for, including implementation guidance, telephone support and the ability to use Google Maps for internal and external commercial applications. And of course, if and when we start to display advertising on Google Maps, it is optional to include or exclude it in Google Maps for Enterprise (we hope you find it so useful that you choose to include it).

Q: What are the licensing terms for Google Maps for Enterprise?
A: Google Maps for Enterprise is licensed for commercial use for internal applications as well as public facing sites.

This announcement (especially the highlighted part) immediately started a discussion on the respective Google group.

Uh, until now the Google Maps API most definitely HAS permitted “using
the API for commercial applications”: Item (4) of the API FAQ
(http://www.google.com/apis/maps/faq.html) says:
“4. Is the Maps API available for commercial websites?
Yes, it is, as long your site is generally accessible to consumers
without charge. For example, if your website is supported by
advertising, it likely falls within the terms of the Maps API. Or, if
you charge people to place information on your map (e.g., to list their
homes for sale), but you list this information on Google Maps on a free
part of your site, you’ll also meet the Maps API terms of use.”
That same item says, at the bottom, “Remember, Google reserves the
right to suspend or terminate the use of the service at any time, so
please read the terms of use carefully.”

Is Google changing the terms to prohibit commercial use of the API?

No, this isn’t a change. We’ll get a fix to clarify the language here.
Essentially, our enterprise offering is for clients that require control of
the display of our maps. Nothing has changed regarding the commercial use of
the free Maps API.

So on one hand we shouldn’t have to wait too long for ads within google maps. But on the other hand it is more or less clear now, that companies that want to use the Google Map API for mapping without ads are not building their business on quicksand. Only the pricing (especially for public facing sites)