Hoping to avoid the problems that have plagued Google’s Street View service, Microsoft says it will launch its version — Streetside — in Germany next month.
Microsoft Germany tells Deutsche Welle that Streetside vehicles will begin driving in four cities (Nuremberg, Furth, Erlangen and Augsburg) on May 9th. The images should be online sometime this summer. Eventually, Streetside cars will photograph about 50 German cities in the next 18 months.
Google has had all kinds of problems with its Street View service in Germany. Some towns tried blocking Street View almost as soon as Google announced it and some threatened sanctions. Google took the unprecedented step of letting German residents opt-out of having homes and buildings shown, and an estimated 2-3% took them up on that offer. But just a couple weeks ago, a Berlin court ruled that Google’s Street View photography is legal in Germany.
Microsoft’s Thomas Baumgartner tells Deutsche Welle that the company will launch a website on Friday (April 8th) telling German residents where Streetside cars will be driving with four weeks advance notice. Via the same website, Microsoft will also allow German residents to opt out of having their homes/apartments shown on Streetside. And, like Street View, Microsoft will use automated tools to blur faces and license plates in its photos.
As the article points out, though, Streetside may be much less likely to face the stiff resistance that Street View has fought. That’s because “almost nobody” uses Bing in Germany, according to a law professor there. Indeed, according to most estimates, Google has more than 90% market share in Germany.