Microsoft have taken Google StreetView and Bing Maps streetside to a new level, offering interesting future opportunities for shops, Chambers of Trade, and local tourism/retail/business initiatives. Using StreetSlide, you can now create a panoramic image of a row of shops or a high street, with logos to give a close-up for each premises.
It is easy to see where this type of application could be taken by adding hyperlinks to the retail websites, or to further local information e.g. bus stop locations and timetables, events and so on, and Microsoft have already begun to convert this into a mobile application for the iPhone.
Whilst mobile coverage in most urban environments is usually good enough to support such image intensive apps, there are still many market towns etc where mobile coverage is patchy to say the least. The development of this type of application, which could attract visitors or shoppers to the area, may give town councils, Chambers of Trade and trade bodies even more cause to consider setting up wi-fi hotspots (wireless internet access) so that users can access local information as well as the wider Internet.
Businesses need to start thinking beyond just a simple website for their online presence, as more and more people access the mobile web and use the Internet in different ways to find the information they are seeking. Streetslide is precisely the type of application that a business could use to drum up bricks and mortar business, as well as to raise the profile of the company using innovative online means to improve search engine marketing.