From the official Google blog:
The new Geographic Web layer we released today is one of those features. We've taken the rich data of Wikipedia, Panoramio, and the Google Earth Community and made a browsable layer in Google Earth. Now you can fly anywhere in the world and see what people have written about it, photographed, or posted. I went hopping around from the southern tip of South America to the mosques in the Middle East to the Maldives Islands, immersed in a wealth of information, and I really felt like I was visiting each place through eyes of people who had been there. It was really engaging to compare, say, the Grand Canyon through the photos in Panoramio to the view from Google Earth, where I could follow the Colorado River through each.
Ok, now what's Google really up to?
--Is it much of a stretch to layer in more local information? Perhaps Google is trying to cut AskCity off at the knees.
--With all of this information layered into Google Earth doesn't the application become an encyclopedia of sorts?
--And how about Google Checkout, which is opening up internationally. Why not go to Fiji, find a merchant or two and use Google Checkout to make a purchase?
Just a few possibilities. Something tells me Google is far from finished with Google Earth.