As much as I hate to chime in on a rumor, this one is kind of cool when you consider the potential good and bad that could stem from it. A post on Search Engine Land suggests that Google is gearing up for a "Store View" feature, similar to the street view feature in Google Maps.
The idea is that Google would come into a retail store with its special 360-degree camera - just like it mounted on cars and trikes to capture images of streets and trails - to capture images of... actually, what's so interesting about the inside of a store? The products on the shelves? Why would I need to "see" the cereal aisle at a grocery store from my computer or phone? And wouldn't those products be moved around regularly? Maybe I just get to walk the store aisles, but why would I be interested in a store's layout.
Obviously there could be some very cool interactive retail, e-commerce tools and features that could be built into such a view, especially in niche stores that cater to specialty items. Imagine taking the store view inside a shopping mall and then entering a virtual store where you can buy actual products? That would take holiday shopping to a new level.
Maybe it could be used to give people a virtual tour of museums or other attractions? Somehow it would be great for real estate agents to be able to offer a "house view" of the interior of a home for prospective buyers.
Obviously, some images like that take privacy concerns to a whole new level. I certainly wouldn't want just anyone to be able to take a virtual stroll through the inside of my house.
Clearly, there's a balance that would be needed. But if Google is, in fact, looking into store view imagery, it opens to the door to a number of potential revenue-generating routes to explore - for both Google and advertisers looking for yet another cutting-edge way to set themselves apart from competitors and attract new customers.