I didn't have the time to discuss this when the news first broke, but was nonetheless excited :)
"Hot new startup alert!"
From the official Foursquare blog, where you would expect to read news from Foursquare:
Starting today, we’re embracing the OpenStreetMap movement, so all the maps you see when you go to foursquare.com will look a tiny bit different (we think the new ones are really pretty). Other than slightly different colors and buttons, though, foursquare is still the same site you know and love.
Many news outlets have been running this story, though they tend to leave out one small detail.
Around this time, we reached out to the wonderful team at MapBox (hot new startup alert!) to see if they had any ideas. They were making gorgeous maps with the OpenStreetMap data. And, like all great love stories, the timing here was perfect. Earlier this week, they launched MapBox Streets, which now powers all of foursquare.com’s maps.
Among the PR speak here: Foursquare will be using MapBox specifically as the source of their maps, which in turn uses OpenStreetMap data. This isn't unusual behaviour, and I suppose it's simpler for journalists to just report OpenStreetMap is being used.
Thinking out loud
The reasons cited seem to echo many companies that have been jumping ship from Google Maps of late. Or would it be jump car. I forget.
Point is, while "facilitating the open web" seems to be a common thread (sorry, bad joke), it's probably safe to assume the real impetus for changing lay behind Google's decision to start charging fairly exorbitant amounts of money for the use of their services. This Google+ posting (ironically) summarises many of the issues facing Google Maps clients.
One could discuss cost, the fact OpenStreetMaps are open, maps MapBox render are pretty, or Google dropping their Do No Evil mantra, but for me it's a simple win for utility!
Originally due to spotty Optus reception, I'd long since replaced Google Maps on my iTelephone with various offline OpenStreetMap installs. To my delight and surprise, it turns out their maps are far better around the areas of Sydney I frequent than Google Maps; many walking paths that exist on the former simply don't on the latter. Insert comment about Sensis here (Martin, I'm looking at you!).
Singapore was another story back in 2010, but that may have changed. In any event, good news and I hope more companies follow suit.