The more I think about it, the more I question why Google spent so much time and money implementing “Street View”. Sure, it’s neat — but isn’t it just a temporary (and unnecessary) step?
With the advancements in 3D buildings in Google Earth (and Virtual Earth, for that matter), making your own “Street View” of any street anywhere is getting easier. For example, look at the comparison shot below in Denver:
Street View looks a bit better if you zoom in tight, but Google Earth is very close. It simply seems to me that Google would be better served improving their 3D models rather than going off on this temporary side project.
Of course, there are three good reasons why they might have decided to make Street View, even with the objections I have.
1 – Good press. It’s not a big news story to say “the 3D models in Denver are now a little bit sharper than they were before”, but Street View has generated a ton of news hype (and therefore traffic and revenue).
2 – It’s in a browser. Google Earth is a standalone client and not as easily accessible for everyone. Of course, maybe Google Earth will end up in a browser some day and that will be an irrelevant point. However, Google hasn’t indicated that at all so it might never happen.
3- Maybe they’ll be using the Street View data to map onto 3D buildings, and this is just a temporary interface into it.
What do you think? Is Street View just a temporary stop on the way to something else? Or is it the way of the future?