Immersive Media announced that their deal with Google for StreetView has terminated. Once can only speculate on who terminated and why or why Google decided not to acquire them. Google has had their fleet of StreetView cars spotted on their lot and IM says they’ve sent them out. They’ve been doing their own collecting while simultaneously using IM for a while now.

Why would Google build its own fleet to begin with? The press release mentions that their content licensing deal has ended. If Google was licensing the technology, they could own the content but the press release indicates they are licensing the content so IM would own those photos. Could this mean that the licensing terms were too restrictive? When I was a SES in San Jose this year, I went to the Google Dance on the Google Campus and the engineer working on the StreetView project (he was in charge of the pictures, not the programming) said they were planning to bring those photos into the API so people could use them for their mashups. I already have noticed that a lot of features and data that exist on their site are not in the API because of other licensing issues. Could this have been one of the issues? Or is it that Google wanted to ramp up quickly and do this in such a large volume that IM could not handle that sort of demand in a short period of time…so Google would build its own fleet and, once completed and large enough, they would not need IM anymore? Well, we won’t know for sure until someone says more.

Meanwhile, at SMX Local & Mobile, Michael Jones, Chief Technologist for Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Local gave a keynote where he speaks a bit about the future direction of their products and the industry. Some take-aways include:

  • Google strives to be a local searcher’s concierge (as in a concierge that helps you at a hotel or elsewhere)
  • Theirs other data out there that must be mapped into local (the ones he mentions such as traffic, reviews, etc are no-brainers and they’re already happening…what is up Google’s sleeve??) and using all that info to “geographically organize the world’s information”
  • Google knows they have a lot of work to do to improve their product
  • Crowdsourcing is a way to collect info and improve data (perhaps a way to internalize the risk of external contracts)
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