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Google Acquires Satellite Image Software Firm

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Matt Hines at News.com reports that Google has acquired Keyhole, a company the provides software to view satellite images and virtually "fly" across the world. Financial terms were not disclosed.

An FAQ on the Keyhole site reads,
We do not have any announced plans regarding how this technology will integrate with our current products and services.

Here's the news release.

Google has already lowered the price of the software to $29.95. Sorry Mac users, this is PC only stuff.

This is Google's second image-related acquistion in three months. In July they acquired Picasa, digital image organization software.

Google as "big brother" types will likely have comments about the acquistion since Keyhole
received funding in 2003 from href="http://www.in-q-tel.com/news/releases/06_25_03.html">In-
Q-Tel
, the non-profit venture capital fund of the CIA.

Two Comments:

About a year ago you were able to access some aerial/satellite images from GlobeXplorer when searching with MapQuest. However, this service is no longer available (at least I can't find it).

It will be interesting to see if Google adds satellite image links next to each address via their phone directory and/or Google Local. Of course, with all of the negative press they received (undeserved) when the masses realized that addresses were available, an image of the location (even though they're accessible eleswhere) might really cause a freak out.

The acquisition is also great marketing/branding. You'll notice on Keyhole's home page CNN and other news organizations use their products. Now, users will likely see something like, "Satellite Images from Google" on television. A great way to reinforce their brand (in a very cool way) and the belief that Google's got all the data.

Finally, and this is VERY COOL, stop by TerraFly. This database allows you to "virtually fly" across the United States (no software needed). Basic access is FREE and additional bandwidth is fee-based. Once you're on a satellite or aerial image, click on any portion of it, and access statistics and other info about the area you've selected.

UPDATE:
++ Battelle chats with former Keyhole CEO, now manager of Google's Keyhole unit, John Hanke.

++ SEW Blog reader Bernhard S. who let's us know about map.search.ch. He writes, "it uses aerial photographs from switzerland overlaid with a street map, you can interactively zoom (click mouse) and pan (drag mouse). it is only based on javascript (no java, no flash) and runs on all platforms (ie, mozilla & co, safari)."

For example, here's Google's Zurich office from above.


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