Since 2010 Google had been developing the idea that people will be able to use Street View to walk through businesses on the Google Map. It started with a pilot program that hit the major cities in the U.S. The development team needed enough “data” to grow the program.

In late 2011, Google started reaching out to the photography community who would eventually become Certified Trusted Independent Photographers (TIP’s) in an exclusive program called Business Photos. By 2013, due to the hard work of those working in the Business Photos program (myself included) it was possible for Google to open this program up in all major countries around the world. In 2014, Business Photos became Business View. Using this name opened the door, allowing the business community to understand it better and relate it to the well known Street View.

Before I get into specifics I should preface this with the idea that the actual product which was called Business View is not changing. It’s a name change and the behind the scenes change.

As of today, September 3rd, 2015 the exclusive “Certified” trusted independent photographer program that brought Business View to life has been modified. With the goal to get more immersive imagery on the maps at a quicker pace, Google had no choice than to change the model by removing some barriers such as the certification process and fair market pricing structure.

The evolution of the program continues and is now called “Street View Trusted” Photographer program. It pertains mainly to those who are producing the content for business owners and how we go about doing it. Even though there’s not much difference there are still a few things to understand.

Contributing photographers will still need to become “Certified” which allows them to continue to contribute 360 degree immersive imagery to Google Maps. The difference between this certification and the original certification is that formal training, experience and passing tests are no longer part of the certification process. You just have to abide by Google guidelines and meet their expectations in terms of quality.

By changing the way one gets certified allows the general public the opportunity to participate. There has been plenty of speculation as to what kind of impact this will have on selling 360 degree virtual tours to business owners. The major points are on the quality and the price.

The price spectrum is going to vary widely from city to city and state to state. This change will shake up the market and it may even cause many of the veterans who have been doing this for years to close up shop or be forced to drastically change their business models. Here are a few pricing ideas that we’ve heard of so far.

  • Free Google Virtual Tours from hobbyists or friends of businesses.
  • Lower priced packages based coming from rookies starting at $100.
  • Agencies will need to stay at their current price of about $540-$850 and up to stay in business.
  • Veteran independent photographers may need to come down from $500 to about $300 just to win some bidding wars.

Other than pricing, the ability to capture the photography is being streamlined as we posted in an earlier blog from June. Now it will be up to the business to ask questions regarding quality and the experience of the photographer. After all, we really do get what we pay for. It’s not going to be kept secret for too long that the new streamlined cameras and Street View App will not replace the traditional method of using high-end DSLR cameras to produce the highest quality tours and photo spheres on Google maps.

Update: Google has released the new version of the official website for Street View Trusted for Business.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post when I break down How to get a Google Street View for the inside of your business, what to watch out for and how to get your moneys worth.