Here’s Why Wikipedia Fired Google Maps

It looks increasingly like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has ventured into treacherous terrain with its new Maps strategy. After Foursquare (NYSE:FSQR) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Wikipedia is the latest to stop using Google Maps in its mobile application and switch to the crowd-sourced, and free, OpenStreetMap.

Last month, Google put a price on high-volume use of its earlier freely available Maps system, charging from $4 to $10 per additional 1,000 loads to any site pulling over 25,000 daily loads. That prompted a stream of break-ups from applications that previously used the system.

Wikipedia mobile software developer Yuvaraj Pandian says the crowd-sourced mapping system is more in tune with the open-source encyclopedia’s own goals, but monetary reasons have to have played a big role. “This closely aligns with our goal of making knowledge available in a free and open manner to everyone,” Pandian wrote in a Wikimedia blog post. “This also means we no longer have to use proprietary Google APIs in our code, which helps it run on the millions of cheap Android handsets that are purely open source and do not have the proprietary Google applications.”

Wikipedia made the announcement while launching a new version of its iOS app.

In late February, Foursquare announced it would also switch to OpenStreetMap despite having faced initial troubles in making the new map images look the way it wanted. Foursquare also touted OpenStreetMap’s obvious advantage over Google Maps. “It’s a crowd-sourced global atlas, and it’s kind of amazing! It’s like Wikipedia for geography,” its blog post read.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation announced on its blog in early March that Apple had switched to its free system for iPhones and iPads at the same time as photo management app iPhoto was being launched.