Usually in Germany things along a roadside are blurry because of driving at excessive speeds in the German engineered rocket car of your choice. Well, now courtesy of Google you can stroll virtually along streets in at least one German city, Oberstaufen, and experience that same blurring of the sites but for a very different reason.
The picture below is part of the Street View offering being rolled out by Google in Deutschland.
As you may or may not know, the road to this point in Street View’s German presence has been a rough one for the search giant. As Search Engine Land’s Matt McGee points out
Earlier this year, Google took the unprecedented step of letting Germans opt-out of having their homes appear in Street View photography; an estimated 244,000 households took Google up on that offer — a little less than three percent of homes in the country.
That was just the latest in Google’s long-running battle with German officials over Street View. The German government raised privacy concerns about Street View in early 2009, long before the service was available there.
While it looks a little weird it’s just part of the deal and in the end, a big nothing with regard to the effectiveness of the service. Where Street View becomes critical is in the business world. Honestly, I am not sure why anyone needs to be taking a digital stroll through all the streets of a town other than looking for houses to buy unless you are planning something else like (fill in your law breaking activity of choice here).
Taking that virtual stroll down Main Street or wherever the main area of business is, however, can have great “chamber of commerce value” when people are trying to find out what they can do or where they can shop in neighboring towns or while visiting the area from elsewhere.
In fact, I spent a few minutes “driving” through the town and although I couldn’t come across another blurred out house I did find a place to get a haircut and a way to get to their Place Page below. Now we’re getting somewhere. I thought that was pretty nifty. At least I have the comfort that if I find myself in Oberstaufen and I need hair extensions, Top Hair, is there for me.
Hopefully all of this Street View noise will go away and Google will stick with a policy like they have done in Germany for all areas included in Street View. People should have the right to opt out just like with anything else and there should be no questions asked. Then the service can do what it is intended to do without creating too many waves.
What’s your take on Street View? Intrusive? Harmless? What are the applications in your mind?