Google today announced a “showcase of multimedia overlays” for Google Earth. I see this as Google’s first step in making the world digital, location driven, and on demand, and it has implications for many of Google’s other products, like maps, local, IM/Talk, etc. For now, Google is saying the content is educational. But I see a time not far off when this is rip roaringly commercial.
Ars Technica has more.
(release in extended entry)
Pilot partners include United Nations Environmental Program, Discovery
Networks, and National Park Service
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Sept. 13, 2006 – Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG)
today released Featured Content for Google Earth, a new showcase of
multimedia overlays in Google Earth that connect users to information
about the world around them from a variety of premium content
Users can access these informative overlays by clicking on the
“Featured Content” checkbox in the Google Earth sidebar. In doing
so, icons for each Featured Content provider will span the globe,
enabling users to click on individual locations and learn about the
area’s significance. The Featured Content showcase will be routinely
updated to include innovative and diverse contributions from additional
“We are excited to provide users with the opportunity to learn more
about the natural wonders and manmade landmarks of the world with
Featured Content for Google Earth,” said John Hanke, director, Google
Earth and Maps. “We believe Google Earth is an excellent medium for
organizing and sharing the world’s geographic information and we
continue to explore opportunities to bring visually compelling and
informative content into Google Earth.”
Initial Featured Content for Google Earth partners include:
· United Nations Environmental Program – The UNEP overlay for
Google Earth includes successive time-stamped images illustrating 100
areas of extreme environmental degradation around the world. From the
deforestation of the Amazon to the fallout of raging forest fires in
Sub-Sahara Africa and the decline of the Aral Sea in Central Asia, this
before-and-after imagery spanning the past 30 years offers users an
online resource for learning about the environmental crisis zones
around the world.
· Discovery Networks World Tour – The Discovery overlay enables
travel enthusiasts and armchair tourists alike the opportunity to
virtually visit major world attractions, cities, and natural wonders
through Google Earth. Featuring streaming Discovery video segments,
users can learn about the history and significance of various world
landmarks, national parks, American and European cities, and African
locations. These multimedia vignettes introduce users to the wonders of
King Tut’s tomb in the Valley of Kings to the history of the gate of
the Itsukushima Shrine in Japan.
· National Park Service – The National Park Service overlay enables
users to learn more about the natural recreation opportunities in their
own backyard. This includes detailed park descriptions, information on
visitor facilities, and more than 10,000 miles of trails within all 58
US National Parks.
· Jane Goodall Institute – With the Jane Goodall Institute overlay
users can visit Fifi and the other Gombe preserve chimpanzees and
follow their daily exploits with the Institute’s “geo-blog” in Google
Earth. Updated daily, this geo-blog captures the work of the Jane
Goodall Institute, illustrating the Institute’s research on
chimpanzees and the effects of deforestation in Africa.
· Turn Here – This overlay features free city video guides for
travel, restaurants, hotels, local events and music around the globe.
Told from an insider’s perspective, these short films connect users
to information about the best pizza shop in New York’s Little Italy
to Pablo Picasso’s favorite hang-out in Halmstad, Sweden.
About Google Inc.
Google’s innovative search technologies connect millions of people
around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by
Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a
top web property in all major global markets. Google’s targeted
advertising program provides businesses of all sizes with measurable
results, while enhancing the overall web experience for users. Google
is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the
Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit www.google.com.