Mapping and geoprocessing giant Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) has recently unveiled it’s brand new online mapping tool ‘ArcGIS Earth’. Some says ESRI is planning to breed a competitor for the widely used online mapping program ‘Google Earth‘ from the tech giant Google. However, in it’s official webpage, ESRI announced,
ArcGIS Earth provides a lightweight, easy-to-use interface for immersive 3D that complements the capabilities of ArcGIS Pro and the 3D Scene Viewer with a focused experience for working with geospatial data on the globe.
Till date, ESRI is providing ArcGIS Earth free of cost however Google used to charge substantial amount of money ($400 per year) for the pro version of Google Earth. Surprisingly, I have noticed that, Google is giving access to pro versions of Google Earth for free too. ESRI has been working on ArcGIS Earth project for quite a while and according to this blog, Google has officially dropped off all charges and made it freely available for everyone. As I was saying, there must be a reason behind this massive change in pricing policy at Google. They have been selling this program for over 10 years and why would they drop all charges? Why now!
Coincidence? May be!!
Surely ESRI is not claiming to make a competition to it’s rival Google Earth however, in my understanding, they deserve to get an applause for making us have free access to online mapping platforms that we use on a daily basis. Some of us are using the street view to find our way home while some others are using it for their business. Thanks to ArcGIS program that allowed us to disseminate the knowledge of remote sensing and earth observation to an wider range of audiences rather than a few geographers. It’s not a coincidence why GIS and remote sensing is being used in sectors like real estate, social marketing and many more.
I still think that the price of ESRI ArcGIS and ArcGIS pro suites are way too high for students and academics but, its a relief that they are offering free trial for all of their products and an user can try a product as many times as he/she likes with just a change in email address.