Panoramio was a geo-located tagging, photo sharing mashup owned by Google. Accepted geo-located tag photos uploaded to the site could be accessed as a layer in Google Earth and Google Maps, with new photos being added at the end of every month. The site's goal was to allow Google Earth users to learn more about a given area by viewing the photos that other users had taken at that place. The website was available in several languages. In 2009 the website was among 1000 most popular websites worldwide.
Panoramio was started in the summer of 2005 by Joaquín Cuenca Abela and Eduardo Manchón Aguilar, two Spanish entrepreneurs. It was officially launched on October 3, 2005, and by March 19, 2007, it had archived over 1 million user submitted photographs. Three months later, on June 27, 2007, the number of photos reached two million. After a further four months, on October 25, 2007, the number of archived photos reached five million.
In October 2006, Google began approaches to acquire Panoramio but these were rebuffed. However, on May 30, 2007, Google announced plans to acquire the website, and Panoramio was acquired by Google in July 2007.
As of September 2014, Panoramio was a world community of several million people and was available in 47 languages.
In May 2015, the number of uploaded photos (including deleted objects) exceeded 120 million.
On October 8, 2016, the total number of uploaded photos (as recorded by Panorank) was 94,370,531 by 4,159,004 users, resulting in a total of 75,640,891,592 image views.
On September 16, 2014, it was announced that Google intended to close Panoramio and migrate it to Google Maps Views. During the migration important Panoramio features, such as "comments", "favorite photographers" and "groups" would disappear.
On September 23, 2014, Panoramio founders Joaquín Cuenca Abela, Jose Florido Conde and Eduardo Manchón Aguilar launched a petition addressed to Google for the people, and especially the Panoramio community, to sign, called "Google: Keep The Panoramio Community Alive". It requested that Google refrain from closing Panoramio. it received 10,512 supporters. The information about the Panoramio protest and petition, quickly made headlines on international media.
Panoramio's strength had been that many geo-positioned Panoramio images were selected to appear on Google Earth software. However, photos selected for Google Earth since May 14, 2015 did not appear on the desktop version of Google Earth. Google did not publicly acknowledge this decision nor did the Company explain the reason for it.
On June 2, 2015, it was suddenly announced that Google's plans for Panoramio were revised and that it would continue to operate until a better solution is developed.
The announcement, by Google's James Therrien, stated: "Among Google’s geo-imagery efforts, we strive to balance what makes sense for you, the pro or enthusiast photographer, with the needs of consumers. Achieving this balance can be a challenge, especially when publishing tools are managed under separate products, such as Panoramio, Views, Google+ and Google Maps. So today, after listening to community feedback about the future of the platform, we’re pleased to let you know that there won’t be any immediate changes to Panoramio. Instead of aligning the community with Views, we’ve gone back to the drawing board to work on a more integrated solution that supports you and your content directly within Google Maps. We’ll be taking the necessary time to get this right as we build a solution that strives to meet the majority of your needs. Thanks for your input, and for your patience in the year ahead".
More recently, users noticed a decline in the site's performance, i.e. not only were photos no longer being loaded to Google Earth but daily view statistics were often not appearing. Since November 11, 2015, the daily count of users' individual image hits began to increasingly show up as zero. Up to October 2, 2016, the number of days with "lost" statistics amounted to 76 days. Google did not explain the reason for the unreliability of the statistics.
On January 30, 2016, a petition was launched by Stuart Smith, a Panoramio user from Australia, to request Google to maintain the site properly. It received over 1,500 supporters.
On October 5, 2016, Google informed Panoramio users that they had decided to move forward with closing down Panoramio on November 4, 2016. Users were able to access their photos in Panoramio for a year, but were unable to add new photos, likes, or comments. Users were told: "Today, with photo upload tools in Google Maps and our Local Guides program, we are providing easy ways for you to share your photos with an active and growing community. As such, we’ve decided to move forward with closing down Panoramio".
A third on-line petition to Google requesting Google not to close Panoramio was started on 5 October by Detlef Huhn, a German Panoramio user.
There was no indication in Google's statement that the promise made in the previous announcement (June 2, 2015) to users i.e. ".....build a solution that strives to meet the majority of your needs" had been or would be met within Google Maps, which has no community building provisions in it, such as users' image galleries, photo tagging, groups, favourite photographers, photo 'like' & 'favourite' buttons or inclusion of geo-mapped photos in Google Earth. Nor was any reason given for Google's lack of communication or consultation with Panoramio users.
On 4 November 2016, Google removed all user facilities from the site apart from the ability to delete photos, connect/disconnect with Google+, and delete an account. Google said it left uploaded images on display for 12 months before Panoramio was completely retired.
All other user facilities were removed on 4 November, including tag lists, favourite photographer lists, historical comments on photographs, private messaging, likes, favourites, user statistics, image meta-data, links to the Panoramio Help Forum, links to users' websites, geo-positioning coordinates and more.
Panoramio asked users to organize images using tags (a form of metadata), which allow searchers to find images concerning a certain topic such as place name or subject matter. Panoramio was also an early website to implement tag clouds, which provided access to images tagged with the most popular keywords. The website also hosted a list of world-famous sites. As of February 2012[update], 1 million photos were uploaded to the site in about 20 days.
Images that had (or were perceived to have had) as their central subject people, machines, vehicles or anything within the interiors of structures, or depict public events such as fairs or concerts, were excluded from the Google Earth layer, as were any potentially controversial images. No waivers were granted even if the images were historical or otherwise vintage in nature, since copyright had to be held by the uploader. Images judged to be too creative or artistic in concept, such as Photoshop constructions, were also excluded from Google Earth regardless of other requirements met. However a pervasive problem was thousands of misplaced photos, typically manifested by cities and towns seemingly located in the oceans, which required action on the part of the photographer before anything could be done.
Users could create and join Google Groups. Photos could then be added to a group. This feature was removed as part of the winding down of the site.
Panoramio had an official iPhone app, which was deprecated in June 2012. Third party developers released a Windows Phone 7 version of Panoramio that allowed users to browse through the various images posted to www.panoramio.com.
In response to the announcement that Panoramio would shut down, the photo-sharing service Mapillary announced that they were setting up a process for transferring one's Panoramio pictures to their service. They have since then published an online guide for this purpose.
A new service, MapSights, was launched in November 2016. It aims to preserve all photos and location data from Panoramio. MapSights also provides a similar interface and layout to Panoramio. Currently, the project has transferred more than 30,000,000 photos with geolocation data, original titles and other meta information.
Data published in Panoramio is often used by scientists, local and governmental authorities as a proxy for the evaluation of aesthetic values, the appreciation of different landscape types and identifying hotspots – most often photographed objects, etc.
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