After pulling the plug on its Google Translate API, the company will now charge for the service. It hopes the fee will curb what it characterized as “extensive abuse.” Users did not respond favorably to the original announcement and we were pleased to report that the API would be available as a paid API. We now have the details on the pricing.
As part of the move to a paid API, the service also removes some of the restrictions of previous versions and can be used in commercial products, which is an important step. Google’s Jeff Chin announced the pricing:
The paid version of Translate API removes many of the usage restrictions of previous versions and can now be used in commercial products. Translation costs $20 per million (M) characters of text translated (or approximately $0.05/page, assuming 500 words/page). You can sign up online via the APIs console for usage up to 50 M chars/month.
Google is positioning this to developers who wish to harness the language translation market commercially. For websites, Google still recommends the translator gadget, which is free for use. In addition, all Google applications like Google Translator and their mobile applications will continue to remain free. The initial comments seem mixed and it seems that you need to have a solid plan around how to monetize your offering since you will be incurring the cost now for the Google Translate API.
The costs are fairly minimal, but with large documents or many queries, the cost could go up quickly. It could mean the end of fun translation mashups like Translation Telephone (above) unless their developers want to pay for the usage.