Google is under some legal pressure overseas this week, following a French company's decision to take them to court. Citing unfair competition, Bottin Cartographies is demanding roughly $700,000 dollars in compensation. The heart of the matter is their web mapping services, which are made freely available to businesses around the world. While Google’s aim is to generate revenue through advertising, as it has always been, Bottin sees it as an attempt to stifle and swallow the market by undercutting any competitors.
Naturally, Bottin Cartographies provides web mapping services for a fee. Whether or not their complaint has any basis, you really must wonder how solid their business plan is if a company can beat them with a free product. What do they expect Google to do in response, begin charging for Google Maps? Refuse to offer the service? Neither is likely and would work against Google's own goals.
Putting it in another perspective, imagine if all Internet search was a paid service ten years ago, only to be bested by Google's free options. Is there really room to complain? Google is not commenting on the situation, but as huge as they are now I doubt they will roll over for anyone.