Orbitz Uses Street View: Another Sign That Mashups Are Serious

Adam DuVander
Sep. 01 2009, 02:29AM EDT

The travel site Orbitz has partnered with Google to show a virtual walking tour of the neighborhood around a hotel. You and I know it as the Street View API, part of Google Maps (our Google Maps API profile).

Street View on Orbitz

From a developer standpoint, their feature is not particularly innovative. In fact, it's just sort of tacked on among many other options. What's notable isn't that Street View is being used, but who is using it. Orbitz is one of the biggest names in online travel and its copying the smaller, independent developers.

If you have a look at our list of Street View mashups you'll see Orbitz is in good company. Over a year ago, real estate services company PeekaCity launched a Street View feature.

Of course, Orbitz is using the enterprise version of Google's tools, according to its press release. While that paid service offers advanced geocoding and support capabilities, it's just as much about the licensing requirements that make this type of service work financially for both parties. Also, Orbitz is bound to have considerable traffic for the bandwidth-intensive feature, especially once the site makes it easy to find.

A company paying for using an API is a positive sign for developers and potential API providers. Powerful APIs may be popular when they're free, but that may not be sustainable. And when something's free, it's tough for others to charge. In the end this is a positive sign as the API ecosystem benefits from realistic long-term business models that work for everyone.

Hat tip: All Points Blog

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.

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