But the otehrs were free at the time
...that's the difference. API for map access is not free, not even from GOOGLE, normally.
Google Maps has always been free, to consumers, as an APP. Just as has been Yahoo, or MapQuest, or any other. But, the Google API, for map data access for businesses, to make their OWN map apps, that is not free, not even here in the USA. The only times it ever HAS been free, once google acquired sufficient market penetration, they started charging for it. Its a pattern clear as day, and anticompetitive, to push competition in that space out, and it is illegal in the entire EU (not just france).