How Google StreetView is killing the competitionNewsBy Viewpoints | April 6, 2011Share This article was originally published on NB: This is a guest article by Miles Walker, a freelance writer who normally writes feature articles for CarInsuranceComparison.Google StreetView is a powerful tool that many people and travel companies use day to day to discover more about a location using on-street images and navigation.Some of the travel businesses that have utilised StreetView in a powerful way include Expedia with its HotelView service and the Orbitz hotel path.For the most part, Google’s unique formula seems to have a lack of true competition, but why is this?Do other companies simply not offer the service, or is their service somehow buggier or less effective in what it tries to accomplish?It’s a combination of many things, really. Microsoft offers a similar map service with their online search engine, Bing, which was generally considered by some critics to be a flop.Microsoft has developed a similar "street view" application called Street Slide, which plans to accomplish many of the things Google’s version has, with "less clicking".Needless to say, critics aren’t as excited as the company. First impressions show us that the image quality of Street Slide may end up being a problem, as well as load times.So how has Google essentially monopolized the market for this kind of software?International competitionIt would be rational to think that Google would have competitors in regards to StreetView and Google Maps.While there are other services that provide maps, Google’s StreetView is unique in that it has to be done manually.Google Maps is composed mainly of government-provided satellite images, while Google StreetView is a feature maintained by Google’s own team, who take all of the pictures from the roves of cars with optimized panoramic cameras or astride snowmobiles, bicycles, or other vehicles for areas that cars cannot readily access.Google has had some issues with competition in foreign countries, such as in Austria. It wasn’t a matter of true market competition however.Amid privacy concerns, the Austrian government banned Google StreetView from operating or providing images from their country, but critics believe it was an act of economic protectionism.They say the Austrian government wanted to protect the domestic interests of NORC, a company that uses technology similar to Google’s own program to map Austrian cities and rural territories.In China, the company City8 released a StreetView version of Beijing in 2006. This program was released a year earlier before Google, and Google’s battles with the People’s Republic of China have rendered many of their services useless in the country.For this reason, City8 has been moderately successful, but only because of the PRC’s rigid censorship policies that condemned Google’s products as a “vehicle for revolution”.Why no real competition?Very few companies command the resources that Google does. Since Google can finance an expansive collection of new projects, they remain a literally unstoppable force on the technological front.Smaller companies in both the United States and foreign nations do not have the means to nurture as effective a system as Google Maps or Google StreetView, so there are very few reasons for consumers to seek out alternatives.Google was ahead of the game, and they jumped in on Google Maps long before competitors even began to think about expanding their horizons, utterly crushing MapQuest and other early threats.The fact that Google’s Android OS is so seamlessly integrated with Google Maps and a built-in GPS makes the platform even more popular.Since 27% of world smartphones are Android, Google Maps draws in even more potential users with a ready-made mobile platform. Google’s sophisticated navigation system is preferred by many users over the ever-popular TomTom and Garmin GPS systems.Google’s adaptive, innovative GPS navigator utilizes frequently-updated traffic information so that the program can give the best suggestions for which routes to take on the go, and really strives to make the best use of 3G connectivity.Because Google has created such a powerful system, true competition has yet to show itself.NB: This is a guest article by Miles Walker, a freelance writer who normally writes feature articles for Carinsurancecomparison.org.