Google just lost a legal battle for Street View in Switzerland. While that particular battle didn’t ban Street View altogether, it did make the service impractical, largely due to the immense number of labor hours required to meet the legal requirements set out by the Swiss government. It’s expected that Google will either appeal that decision or abandon Switzerland, and the second of those options seems more likely given other recent news: Google is abandoning the service in Germany.
For some that’s a rather surprising decision, since the German government – after a strenuous legal battle – decided that Street View as allowable. However, under continued legal duress and with a number of opponents in the German government still after the service’s blood, it seems Google prefers the white flag to a continued struggle. This adds Germany and, potentially, Switzerland to a list of other non-street-view countries that includes Austria, Australia, and the Czech Republic.
This decision may also be related to the recent shuffle at the top of Google’s management structure. After all, other services are being re-evaluated, merged, or tweaked. Given the heavy cost of not only Google’s Street View equipment but the legal battles that inevitably ensue, it’s possible that the company simply feels the service is no longer worthwhile (at least with their current technology and auto-blurring capabilities). Whether Germany really is the start of such a domino effect or is simply an isolated incident with less public details coming into play has yet to be seen.
[via Search Engine Land]