Saturday, June 24, 2006

France unveils national rival to Google Maps

Not being able to log in, it's difficult to get many real details, but it seems like lazy journalism to call a rival to Google Earth. The Reuters piece even implies that Google Earth is a website. (Although, one could be forgiven for confusing the ever expanding, slightly disorganized product offerings of the Googleplex, it seems more likely that they accepted the assertion of the press release without the faintest concept of fact check.)

Perhaps, rather than making more portals, it would be more useful for countries to provide data services, as Stefan over at Ogle Earth suggests. Of course, you could then start data format wars, but at least you can adapt and convert your way around many of those. Given the web site launch difficulties, it would seem unlikely that these folks are going to be able to throw a 3D version out there in the autumn.

ESRI ArcGIS Explorer beta shots have been looking quite nice. I wonder how much data they are going to provide in their initial release? It seemed like the product was already in decent shape at last year's user conference, so we can hope that the intervening year has been spent acquiring and combining data...

I am really looking forward to seeing how you can customize the client. That's one of the bits of Google Earth that is quite obscure, even in the enterprise version. I can understand the reluctance to let people clutter up the toolbar with 1000 buttons, which would interfere with the simplicity, but I have one button I'd like to add....