When Google Earth started off, they relied on crowdsourced imagery to populate the database. This allowed common people to click pictures of their locations and send them to Google who uploaded these images to Panoramio and every time you logged into Google Earth and navigated to a place, the Panoramio platform was responsible for showing you the relevant images. The platform was growing in popularity and had garnered a huge contributor and user base since its introduction in 2007, and it looked like this was the way to go for the Google Earth application going forward. However, Google decided otherwise and started preparing their own photo sharing solution for both, Google Maps and the Google Earth platforms.
The first step in this process was to create the mobile applications for the two platforms, which they did, and to top it all off, they introduced something they called ‘Local Guides Program’. This way, anyone with a Google account could sign up for this program and start contributing photos of their locations directly into the mobile apps. Over time, Google introduced perks and rankings for the guides, making it a bit of a gamified experience, and this only resulted in more users joining and contributing their images.
In 2014, Google realized that their Local Guides + Mobile apps strategy had worked out the way they wanted and as such, Panoramio was no longer required as the default photo-sharing platform for Google Earth as well as Google Maps applications. To this effect, the company issued a statement where they announced that the Panoramio platform would be discontinued. However, this announcement was met with a lot of backlash from seasoned users, who even petitioned to keep the platform running despite the existence of the newer mobile apps and the local guides program. The pressure was enough to get the tech giant to reverse their decision and keep Panoramio running for the time being. The users tasted success and Panoramio started getting uploads at an increased pace. But, this was not what was on the agenda at Google, which knew that the future belonged to the mobile applications and an integrated photo-sharing feature.
A short while later, Google decided to pull the plug on Panoramio permanently, but this time, along with the announcement, they also gave users a road map for the transition to the newer integrated platform. The tech giant has been known to discontinue services that they felt have outlived their application and Panoramio met the same fate.
Here’s what Google offered their users to help make the transition smoother –
- For users who had linked their Panoramio and Google+ accounts, Google would automatically copy their images to a Google Album archive. This way, their effort would not be in vain.
- Users would be able to access their content on Panoramia for one whole year after the service was discontinued.
Obviously, some of the loyal Panoramia users were left fuming, but nothing can stop technological evolution and over time, this solution was accepted.
On November 4th, 2016, Panoramio bid farewell to the world, making way for an all-Google integrated platform that featured smooth mobile applications for Google Earth and Google Maps, a more robust Local Guides program, and an integrated media upload feature.