Through this pilot program, the company plans to take 360-degree photos of businesses interiors, including the pictures of its layout, facilities, merchandise and storefront displays of local businesses and allow businesses to upload it to Google places to offer an interactive virtual tour to its potential customers. Google stated that these panoramic photos will appear across various Google properties like Google searches, Google Maps and Google Places. Businesses can also embed these photos on their own website and social media pages by embedding a HTML snippet from Google Maps.
The company is initially launching the service in Hyderabad and will be rolling it out to other Indian cities soon. Google states it’s currently focusing on businesses like restaurants, cafes, spas, salons, gyms, showrooms, and retail stores through this initiative although other businesses can also sign up for the service. That being said, Google has noted that it will be not photographing legal, medical, corporate, religious or large chain establishments. Also, users can take upload their own photos and videos to their Place Page through Google Places.
Who owns these photos? What interesting is that the policy applicable to India is different from that for the global site. While the global FAQ page suggests that businesses own these photos and they will be providing a license to Google to publish these photos on its properties, the Indian FAQ page for the same service indicates that Google owns these photos and businesses will retain the ownership of only the photos they upload.
Pricing? In terms of differences in pricing, the global FAQ page suggests that Google’s trusted photographers who will be carrying out the photo shoot, will be offering their services at a ‘fair market value’ since they are not employed by or affiliated to Google. Google further notes that businesses can negotiate with these photographers to reach an acceptable price for the service. However, the Indian FAQ page suggests that Google appointed photographers will photograph the businesses for free but the service is available only for a limited period of time, following which businesses who intend to get photographed wil have to pay the Google trusted photographers.
Countries: Google Business Photos program was launched in April 2010 in 30 cities across United States, Australia, and Japan and is currently available in select cities in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Updates: Google informed us that the differences we pointed out earlier are due to different policies for India and global, and this post has been updated to indicate the same