Google on the map: acquires satellite image firm Keyhole Software

UPDATE 4/5/2005 (post + 6 months): Google Maps now includes a satellite view courtesy of Keyhole’s technology

No surprise here; after I called them a Local Search Sleeper after the Web 2.0 conference, Google announced this morning that they had acquired Keyhole Software.

The obvious implication is that Google now has mapping technology, and can compete against the likes of Mapquest et al for Google searches such as:

- Show me a map for location X
- Show me driving directions from location X to location Y

(Given that this is originating with satellite data, one might also foresee a time when you could transfer your directions to a mobile/auto GPS unit, access mapping via SMS, etc.)

What’s more interesting, based on what I know of Keyhole from their online site/store, is that there database is filled with objects; that is, rather than being limited to streets, they actually know that a landmark is a landmark, making many other interesting things possible:

- Show me the View from seat 24E at Shoreline Ampitheatre, Mountain View, CA
- Place my Local Search business at the corner of 5th and Main

Because they have everything from “space” to ground level, they can allow you to “pre-flight” some interesting things:

- Show me a flight route, at 7500 ft, from Honalulu to Maui
- Show me the Statue of Liberty Helicopter Tour route

And of course, let’s not forget that Google Image Search (in general) just got a huge boost.

Where I’m most excited about this near term is in its synergistic effects with photography and Google’s recent Picassa acquisition. I’ll write more about that later. (More broadly, given a Web Services API, there’s plenty of room for all parties to innovate around a mapping platfrom. That too, I suppose is obvious.)

Most interesting of all? Well, either Google just wrapped up a very quick acquisition, or they were already in talks with Keyhole while Web 2.0 was going on. Either way, they still seem to be a couple of steps ahead of the competition…

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One comment on “Google on the map: acquires satellite image firm Keyhole Software
  1. Anonymous says:

    Like all new technology there are benefits and downsides to this software. One of the interesting “features” of this new program is that it lets you look back in time as the map photos are a bit outdated which makes for some interesting shots.

    Of course there is a benefit to this… pulling up
    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=345+chambers+street+new+york+ny&ll=40.726987,-74.005637&spn=0.022144,0.029311&t=k&hl=en you can see the WTC site around the time it was paved over. If this service becomes more realtime and/or zooming improved, well, it could turn into a rather morbid service. Like I said… there are some great perks to the feature (like sending a map to your friend with an actual picture of your home) and there are some potential faults. However, I can’t forsee this system being the cause of some evil big brother phenomena… at least not at this detail level.