Today Google has added the first sea vessel to Street View’s roster of panoramically surveilled and stitched places, with a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship, called Allure of the Seas, getting 20,000 close-ups so that armchair surfers can take a virtual tour of the floating holiday camp.
It’s a partnership project between Google and RCI, under Google’s Street View-powered Business View initiative for virtual tours (and ‘marketing synergies’).
When Google first launched its Street View visual mapping tech in a handful of U.S. cities, way back in 2007, there were sharp intakes of breath — followed by plenty of oohs and aahs!
Years on, with the roadside view novelty well worn off, Google’s stitched street panoramas only tend to make the news on privacy grounds — when, for instance, celebrities ask for their homes to be censored blurred out.
But, to keep the Street View pizazz alive, Google has kept pushing its lens into more novel places. In recent times, this has included World Cup Stadia in Brazil; the famous temples of Angkor Wat; the Grand Canyon; some of the highest mountains in the world; a gaggle of zoos; various exotic sub-sea sights; the UK’s unlovely but second-busiest airport, Gatwick; and the past, to name a few.
(So what kind of places isn’t Street View mapping? Unsurprisingly Google is staying away from controversial areas like prisons, war zones, military bases, refugee camps, detention centers for asylum seekers, and disputed territories.)
With the diversification of the Street View lens into more tourist locations and sights of novelty interest, Google gets to expand its usefulness to people doing holiday-related research.
On the one hand it’s almost as if Mountain View, whose humungous advertising business benefits when people spend more time online, is trying to persuade web users there’s no need to disconnect from the Internet to go on holiday somewhere exotic when your eyeballs can feast on all these sights digitally from the comfort of your home.
On the other, the more Google knows about where you might be planning to go on holiday — as you take its virtual tours here and there — the more granularly targeted data it’s able to amass on you to sell to advertisers. So really there’s no downside for Google here.
For its part, RCI is obviously hoping that the “immersive and interactive” Street View tech ends up working some marketing magic by persuading more people to take the plunge on an expensive cruise after they get to see exactly what kind of holiday their money is going to buy them.