Here are the key bits:
Changes to pricing. While the Maps API remains free for the vast majority of sites, some developers were worried about the potential costs. In response, we have lowered the online price from US $4 per 1,000 map loads to 50¢ per 1,000 map loads.
Simplified limits. We’re eliminating the previous distinction between Styled Maps and regular unstyled maps. The same usage limits and pricing now apply to applications using Styled Maps [where you literally style the maps via code; those used to be counted differently] and the default Google Maps style.
We’re beginning to monitor Maps API usage starting today, and, based on current usage, fees will only apply to the top 0.35% of sites regularly exceeding the published limits of 25,000 map loads every day for 90 consecutive days. We aren’t automating the application of these limits, so if your site consistently uses more than the free maps allowance we’ll contact you to discuss your options. Please rest assured that your map will not stop working due to a sudden surge in popularity.
I like that Google listened and only NOW is even looking to implement charges. I also like that this is a human thing - a Googler will reach out to you IF your site exceeds the limits. I'm wondering if Esri is watching and considering the feedback its getting on its pricing plans for ArcGIS Online for Organizations.
TechCrunch addresses what Esri might consider:
It’s probably no surprise that Google is making this announcement just a few days before its annual Google I/O developers conference is about to start. The original pricing changes, after all, created quite a bit of unease in the Google developer community and with this topic out of the way, the company won’t have to face uneasy questions about this topic.