The blogosphere is buzzing with the story of how Google is working on building out maps and pictures of the insides of stores now.
Lots of people act like they have no idea what this means, take this quote from Alley Insider:
Stupidest idea ever. Pictures will never do a good merchandising effort justice. The only people who would benefit from the pictures are thieves.
And my first reaction was “will I pull out my phone to find the ‘kids clothes section at Old Navy'”? But I think this really pushes us towards a future filled with augmented reality meta data. These pictures are the first step to tagging things inside stores and I can imagine a world where I walk into Walmart, grab my phone and say, “Where are the snow shovels” and it gives me a HUD to guide me there.
They could even throw in specials in the store and be adding additional information to the HUD based on geo-targeting data.
This is the future and if Google owns all that data, that probably puts it in a pretty good place. Much like the cable monopolies and telco monopolies of the 20th century, once they have covered an area, will it be in anyone else’s best interest to recreate that database?
Very ambitious plan, but an obvious part of the future. This is a $100 million bet on a multi-billion future. Google is smart to take advantage of it.