Google has today officially launched Google Business Photos program as part of its Google Maps services, to businesses in India. The program was launched in India last year as a pilot program and allowed businesses to offer interactive, 360 degree interior imagery of their showrooms, restaurants and real estate among others on Google Maps. Google said that this program has been launched in eight Indian cities beginning with Hyderabad and it plans to expand the program to 20 cities across the country this year. The program is currently live in more than eight countries globally including United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Canada, and the United Kingdom among others.
Speaking to Medianama, Gautam Gandhi, Google India said that the program has been launched for two reasons. Firstly, it is an attempt to bring offline businesses without an online presence to the online space. Secondly, they hope to enable consumers’ buying decision.
Enrolling for the Program: When we checked, we noticed that businesses can choose any one of Google-certified Trusted Photographer/ Trusted Agency, discuss the pricing for the shoot and schedule a photo shoot. After the shoot, the images will be uploaded to the Google Maps and Google+ Local listing of the business along with Google search results for that business. However, its worth noting that businesses will not be able to review the photos before upload.
Some of the businesses that use Google Business Photos include Satya Paul, Hyderabad, Maayin Hyderabad, Hard Rock Cafe, Pune, The Palace, a shop in Chennai etc.
Photographers: Interestingly, Google has said that photographers and photography agencies can apply to list themselves as a Trusted Photographer/ Trusted Agency for the program through a form, following which Google will choose select photographers for the program.
At the time of writing this article, the website had listed Trusted Agencies/Photographers like Indiacom, Jindal RH Interactive, Carbon Tree and Vox360 from cities likes Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Baroda, Chennai, Delhi – NCR, Goa, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Nagpur, Nasik, Pune, Rajkot, Surat, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam.
Technology: Google noted that it will be using the same technology used in Google Street View to introduce these internal imagery on Google Maps and businesses can embed these photos on their own website and social media pages by embedding a HTML snippet from Google Maps.
Who Owns The Photos? Interestingly, Google also seems to have changed the policy of the service from its pilot launch. At launch, Google had said it will own these photos and businesses will retain the ownership of only the photos they upload. However, Google has now stated that businesses will own these photos and they will be providing a license to Google to publish these photos on its properties. This is in line with what Google offers through the program globally.
Pricing: Also, it looks like photographers who were previously providing free services during the pilot, will now be charging for their services and businesses can apparently negotiate with these photographers to reach an acceptable price for the service.