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November 9, 2005

Google plans search spin for Earth

Google Inc will soon be linking its slick Google Earth geospatial mapping tools to its enterprise search tools if the mutterings from its enterprise business unit are to be believed.

By CBR Staff Writer

The company says it is planning to release two new versions of the tool – Google Earth Pro ands Earth Enterprise – which integrate with Google’s Search Appliance and Mini search products.

David Girouard, general manager of Google’s Enterprise business unit, sees great potential for integration. We’re looking at areas that might make sense to pull together geospatial applications and enterprise search technologies, he said.

He said the business unit was in preliminary discussions over possible integration strategies and packaging options and that an integrated product offering was still a ways off.

Girouard did not commit to any specific timeframe but hinted that Google will tap into external development work already being done around the Google Earth products.

He said that much of the integration is likely to come from outside developers who already use the open Earth APIs for building or integrating the software into custom applications.

Google’s Search Appliance and Mini are hardware boxes that bundle in index and search software aimed at corporate use.

Google’s Earth-branded products are based on technology acquired last year from Keyhole Corp. There are two versions, both aimed at consumers.

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The basic mapping version is freely downloadable from the Web and effectively allows users to navigate across, and zoom into, satellite images stored in a database.

Google Earth Plus is a more functional version that comes with a $20 price tag, and includes additional features like GPS (global positioning system) and spreadsheet data imports, annotation tools and higher resolution print capabilities.

Google’s popular Maps technology, used by consumers to find the quickest route to Grandma’s house, is also based on Google Earth technology.

If Google’s plans ever come to fruition, then two more products will also be pushed into Google Enterprise’s expanding product portfolio.

Google Earth Pro, priced at $400 and aimed at professional users in industries like real estate, construction and engineering, offers sophisticated import and resolution capabilities and lets users measure areas on the map. It also incorporates a nifty animation module.

Google Earth Enterprise is a more scalable server-based version designed to support from hundreds to thousands of simultaneous users.

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