Placebase vs. Google

John Musser, April 3rd, 2006

Pushpin LEToday Placebase, a five year old GIS mapping company out of LA, is directly taking on Goolge Maps by launching a new pay per transaction model commercial mapping product named Pushpin LE.

Their strategy is to target those developers who need more than Google offers, particularly in terms of support and licensing. They say PushPin was “inspired by Google’s hobbyist-oriented API”, which in itself captures the essence of their approach. And the word “serious” features prominently in their marketing.

This next round of the online maps battle goes right to the heart of some of the issues people have cited with Google Maps mashups:

  • No support is available—even for a fee
  • Google’s terms say they have the right to include advertising in the maps at any time and without notice (something happening very soon now)
  • Daily transactions are capped (without special agreement)
  • All maps are branded “Powered by Google?
  • There’s a question as to can internal corporate applications be built because Google’s terms require that all uses of Google Maps be “freely accessible to end users.?

OK, so how much? Introductory tiered pricing starts at $1,600 for 150,000 transactions/month (this is for TIGER map data, the enhanced NAVTEQ data costs more). So at $19,200 per year you’re paying a lot more than the current $0 for Google Maps, but for those who need some of the things missing in Google Maps, like a known cost with a signed contract, it gives a budget line-item to work against. On the one hand it removes some of the mystery about what-if and on the other places a cost bar that needs to be crossed in order to justify that ‘mapping feature’.

The API itself is modeled after the Google Maps API which they hope will speed development time and encourage switching.

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7 Responses to “Placebase vs. Google”

April 3rd, 2006
at 3:30 pm
Comment by: Phillip

This is interesting indeed…

Seems a little fishy that its hard (or for me, impossible) to find an interactive demo on their web site of the full API. Assuming someone could duplicate the slickness of Google Maps (not easy to do, not even Yahoo has really done it yet) its nearly impossible to beat the Google branding right now.

If I was thinking about launching a commercial application, I’d get in touch with Google and see what options are available. I know organizations who are getting ready to launch Google Maps services that are guaranteed to not have advertising. I am not sure what the price difference would be, but I’m sure it will competitive.

Tough spot to squeeze yourself into, competing directly with a service that is both free and worldly known. Good luck Placebase!

April 3rd, 2006
at 3:36 pm
Comment by: think

Set your Mashups Free! (for a price)

Placebase has unveiled a service called Pushpin LE which seems to be a Google Maps clone without the Google logo. Thanks to for this tidbit.

April 3rd, 2006
at 8:13 pm
Comment by: Joshua Weinberg (the Placebase PR guy)

There is a small dragable map in the upper right hand corner of For a more extensive demo, full API specs, etc. just send a note to

April 3rd, 2006
at 11:15 pm
Comment by: » Blog Archive »

[...] [...]

April 18th, 2006
at 1:31 am
Comment by: John Tokash’s Blog » Placebase - commercial provider

[...] I’d love to see someone from Placebase comment on their abilities relative to the TechCrunch online maps roundup.  From what I’ve seen, they compare pretty well, which means companies who want to have their own, branded, ad-free, fully supported map integration need look no further! [...]

December 25th, 2006
at 4:01 am
Comment by: » Blog Archive » Placebase vs. Google Maps Round 2

[...] Today, in a follow-up to their spring launch of Pushpin LE — a supported, licensed mapping tool with Google Maps API compatibility — mapping vendor Placebase is taking-on Google Maps again, this time with a Dynamic Layers API. It’s the next round in the ongoing one upsmanship of the online mapping feature wars, Placebase now has hooks for multi-layer maps with support for dynamically shaded regions such as market analysis, demographic, and other data. Map tiles are pre-rendered for performance and the API provides the ability to dynamically turn layers off-and-on and to change their z-order. They have an online example here. [...]

October 5th, 2009
at 12:59 am
Comment by: Apple Geo >>> « About Geo-Infomatic by PK

[...] [...]

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John Musser
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Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.