Free as in $2.99

A new twist from the company I posted about earlier this month that was flooding the iTunes app store with hundreds of $1.99 and $2.99 offline map viewers that use OpenStreetMap tiles. All Points Blog reports that they’re now offering an app called 550 City Maps, which switches the process to in-app purchases. In other words, the app itself is free, but it costs $2.99 to download a map of a city. Based on OSM tiles. Which are freely available online, and can be downloaded for offline use for free in many other iOS map applications, including some free ones.

This is exactly the same as offering a Wikipedia app for free, but charging for each article downloaded. I mean, you could do it, but even if it’s allowed under the licence, it’s, well, ignoble: it exploits others’ volunteer labour for private profit and trades on your customers not knowing that there are better and freer alternatives. has things precisely backwards: they could charge a few dollars for the app itself and make the map data free — a business model followed by other paid map apps in the store that I’ve seen — and I wouldn’t have cause to complain at all. I’d be able to look at the app in terms of whether it was good, not whether it was right.

Previously: 976 Map Apps and Counting. (P.S. They’re up to 1,061 apps.)