Web Search in Google Earth

Last week Google added KML search to Google Earth. Now when you are using the search bar you will see a listing of KML files found via web crawl that are applicable to your current Google Earth view. For example, if you are viewing Seattle, WA and you type in ‘statues’ you will see applicable KML files. When I heard the announcement two things struck me.

Web Search in Keyhole
This is the first inclusion of Google’s web crawl in Google Earth. It has had Local search for a while, but that comes from a seperate index. I think that this is just the beginning of different search types to be included in Google Earth. I don’t see any reason why Google wouldn’t continue to add geocoded content as layers. In the future I think that we can expect blogs, Orkut networks, geo-referenced websites (time to start using microformats!), and books (it has already added a geo-oreinted view to book searchexample).
What would the goal be of adding more search types? Well for one this would continue to improve the product; search is powerful. Second, search can lead to ads which may lead to monetization of Google Earth.

Geo Community Centered Around KML
This is the second KML-sharing feature that Google has implemented. The first was the ability to view other people’s KML files in Google Maps. Though hosted KML is a very capable for sharing data it is still incredibly geeky to try to build community around a file format. I can’t imagine “normal” users being able to really use this.
A much simpler method of sharing would be hosted maps – very similar to what Platial , Frappr and Live do. I have to assume that a similar product is being worked on internally. Google will have to strike a balance here as it will not want to be seen as competing too much with all of its mashup partners (who can switch providers very easily by using Open Source JavaScript libraries like OpenLayers or MapstractionRadar post).

John Hanke
, the founder of Keyhole (creators of Google Earth), will be speaking at Where 2.0 2007.