A few months ago [co-developer] Joaquin Cuenca and I met Google’s John Hanke in Madrid at Google’s offices. We had talked before, when Google put the Panoramio KML feed on Google Earth’s download page.
John liked Panoramio; he proposed hosting Panoramio on Google servers, and some other thing that can help us with the project. He also asked us to participate in Where 2.0 and Google’s Geo Developer Day, and we will.
Eduardo goes on to note that Google is helping many Google Maps mashups, and that John Hanke is a wonderful guy:-) (As an aside, he also notes that Tagzania has been doing well vs. Platial in terms of popularity. An Alexa chart does indeed suggest Tagzania has more staying power, and I think that’s entirely deserved.)
What’s the big picture here? This news further highlights the different strategies Microsoft and Google are employing to encourage the use of their map products. With the latest version of Microsoft Virtual Earth, Microsoft implemented a very slick home-grown system for collecting and sharing placemarks. Google, on the other hand, is putting its trust in the personal initiative of a legion of developers that use its KML and Google Maps API, and then encouraging the best of the breed.
Each company is probably employing the best strategy, given its position: Microsoft was second to the API party, and until recently, a lack of international data prevented uptake by the non-US world (witness the nationalities of the developers of Tagzania and Panoramio). It therefore makes sense for Microsoft to develop top-notch map-based tools in-house. Google, on the other hands, has seen a large developer ecosystem take root arounds its API, and it is obviously far better for Google to water it than to try to compete. (Pardon the mixed metaphor.)
Additionally, I’d speculate that hosting Panoramio on Google servers also facilitates the “capturing” of Panoramio’s semantically enhanced content — Google’s preferred kind of content, as I’ve blogged here.