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Google To Grow Brand Equity With Google Earth

  • CNet , Tuesday, February 3, 2009 12 PM
Google announced today that users can now explore the ocean through Google Earth. This is not a significant move revenue-wise, says CNet's Stephen Shankland, but it could be a very significant move brand-wise. As Google gets larger and larger, the company runs the risk of losing its goodwill with consumers. However, Google Earth, in becoming a more complete product, "gives the company a new way to bring its brand to the world, notably with students for whom the software will help supplant atlases and encyclopedias."

Meanwhile, Google Earth and Google Maps are becoming "a widely-used virtual window on the real world." Whether these are used as standalone software or through a Web browser hardly matters -- what matters is that Google will control the technology and commercialization of these products. It's unlikely that Google Earth will make any money by bringing new visibility to the ocean depths. It does, however, make Google Earth a more indispensable product.

In an interview with Shankland, John Hanke, director of Google Earth and Maps, points out that "the near-term opportunity (for monetizing Google Earth) is in local search." This means people looking for anything from food to lodging, to the nearest place to get a haircut. Shankland writes: "Since people often need to discover information about a place before going there, Google Earth and Maps could prove a lucrative endeavor. It may take years to get there, and it'll cost Google dearly in server hardware and network bandwidth, but Google has shown patience in subsidizing long-term projects.

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