Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Keeping Virtual Earth and Google Earth Current Enough to be Relevant

MSN unveiled their new satellite imaging product, "Virtual Earth," yesterday at the D3: All Things Digital" Conference in San Diego. This is the latest example of the ongoing competitive battle among the major search engines to provide the latest and coolest features - or at least keep up with the competition.

I think Virtual Earth and Google Earth, the very similar recently-announced product from Google, will provide great new depth for local search. Both have plans to show multiple layers of featured locations so a user can see the geographic relationship between different destinations. Ex. How close is the nearest Starbucks my nearest bank branch? They also both have indicated that PPC advertising will appear with the local listings.

Today was the first chance I've had to download and check out Keyhole, the satellite mapping service that will soon be re-launched as Google Earth. To be honest, I wasn't that impressed. I live in a rapidly growing suburb. My home was one of the first to be built in my neighborhood back in late 2000. My house does appear on Keyhole's photo, however it does not recognize my address, only the street name. By viewing the state of my neighborhood and the area around it, I figure that the image currently appearing in Keyhole was taken in late 2001 or early 2002. Using Keyhole's "Layers" feature, I attempted to find the nearest Starbucks and my local bank branch. Keyhole does not show my bank, which was built in 2003. It definitely doesn't show the Starbucks built less than a mile away which opened two months ago.

I'm hoping that when Google Earth, and Virtual Earth for that matter, officially launch later this summer that both the images and local listings will be updated regularly enough to be relevant to searchers.


Post a Comment

<< Home