This post was originally written for It’s Not About The Numbers.
The recent announcement by Groundspeak of the removal of Google Maps from geocaching.com has kicked off a lot of related discussion about the cost of Premium Membership. In short, Google Maps have started charging heavy users of embedded Google Maps (which were used on geocaching.com) and this was going to make the continued use of Google Maps somewhat challenging. It has also resulted in an outpouring of Geocaching.com members that would be keen to see an increase in Premium Membership to ensure continued access to Google Maps.
Currently, Premium Membership is a simplistic all-or-nothing offer. The discussions over the Google Maps indicate that this is quite a polarising issue. For some, it is make-or-break, and the removal of Google Maps functionality has already caused a number of cachers to indicate that they are not going to renew their membership. Others seem unconcerned and are in fact happy with the move to OpenStreetMap – I certainly fall in this camp.
However this got me thinking. Is it time for Groundspeak to look at providing some add-on membership packs? Consider the current Premium Membership a base subscription. When purchasing a membership, it would be good to be able to purchase certain add-on packs that provide additional functionality, or increased capacity on services already provided as part of Premium Membership.
For example, this Google Maps issue clearly indicates that there is a market for members that are prepared to pay to cover the Google Maps API charges that Groundspeak will incur. It is quite unreasonable to expect all Premium Members to cover the costs of those that want to use Google Maps. I certainly don’t want my Premium Membership to go up, possibly a significant amount, just to keep Google Maps functionality on Geocaching.com.
Therefore, it should be possible for members to purchase an add-on pack, that provides Google Maps API functionality for their account.
There are a couple of other add-ons that I would be very interested in seeing Groundspeak offer:
- Increase Pocket Query limits – the current limit per Pocket Query is 500 caches by email. This was great a few years back, but the explosion in cache placements in the last 3-4 years has seen the email PQ limit become woefully inadequate. I would love to see add-on packs that enable you to upgrade your account to higher email PQ limits, such as 1000 or 2000 caches. I’d have absolutely no problem paying for this as longer as it was cheaper than the current option of purchasing a second Premium account to accomplish this.
- Increase API daily limit – the current API daily limit is around 6000 caches. For whatever reason, some cachers may want to upgrade their limit to something higher. An added benefit of a Groundspeak API add-on pack could be a faster server so that the caches download faster than the current existing API allows.
I believe that the growth of the different ways that we cache, and use Geocaching.com mean that the current Premium Membership is no longer able to satisfy all users. The time has come for Groundspeak to separate out the base Premium Membership, and provide add-on packs for expanding specific capabilities, or to cover third-party charges such as the Google Maps API.