Today Google launched Business Photos in India, a concept that puts businesses on the map – virtually and literally. In a pilot run, Google will take 360 degree pictures of businesses and will allow owners to upload them to their location on Google Places.
Google India’s official blog talks about the concept of taking pictures of business interiors to add to a business’ credibility. The concept stems off the idea that a business cannot always be judged by how its office looks on the outside.
After taking permission of the business owners who want their interiors to be photographed, Google’s certified Photographers will work directly with them. The 360 degree pictures of the interiors of businesses will be posted online via Google Places. This feature was originally available only to users in USA, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, France and UK. Countries recently added to its kitty are Ireland, Netherlands and Canada. Now the service has been finally launched in India.
Google Places allows owners to promote their businesses by providing detailed information to prospective customers, finding niche audiences and enhancing brand visibility through increased searchability.
Owners can also promote their ventures by posting photos, videos, coupons and even announcing special deals. On the other hand, customers can benefit by ranking and rating these business, finding the right offers and being armed with better information.
Google’s Business Photos complements Google Places and adds value by showing the customers the interior and the ‘feel’ of the business from inside. Business can now be ready to bare it all – the décor, the buzz, the merchandise, the display, the cleanliness, innovation in design et al.
Google Business Photos are in addition to the pictures owners can upload on Google Places. However Google Business Photos will be more detailed, higher quality and panoramic. Both will appear side by side in a Google search.
Currently Google is going to begin the pilot program in Hyderabad. It is inviting business owners in India to send in applications. Their premises will be photographed by Google appointed photographers, free of cost. From a business owner’s perspective, many scenarios come to mind. What if the owner of a gymnasium could display the interiors of a gym to give customers a great idea of what to expect when they walk in through the doors? What if spa owners could let potential customers get a feel of their services by putting their facilities up on a virtual display? Would it help if the owner of a car showroom could put up a virtual display of the actual showroom?
Many questions from a customer’s perspective come to mind too. What if a customer can simply go online and decide whether Spa A has better ambient lighting than Spa B or whether the tables at Café Z are not as crowded as in Café Y without actually visiting the shop front? How convenient would it be for a customer to simply go online and decide which night club to go to, just by comparing the Business Photos of 2 popular ones?
The answer to all these questions lie in one simple fundamental question – Can Google bring more Indians online? India has the world’s youngest population. This came at the back of reports that the Indian population will soon be amongst the top 3 in the world.
If tech savvy Indians begin previewing the services offered by businesses in India, Google may very well have created a monster platform that benefits both, businesses and customer. Not to mention, yet another possible revenue stream for the internet giant.