Users debate costs of Google Earth vs. ArcGIS

Konquest Online posts about their thoughts on Google Earth (dead link):

“I think that GIS producers should be humbled by the work that has been done at
Google and Keyhole. It’s not perfect yet, but it was developped in about one
year, has a great interface and is free. I’ve only downloaded Google Earth, but
they also offer the software in two other flavours: Google Earth Plus (which features GPS integration, higher print resolution and more powerful annotation features) and Google Earth
(with a ton of features and can be compared with commercial GIS) But the Pro version is still priced only 400 US$/year, compared to the 10 000+ $ needed to acquire ESRI’s ArcGIS.”

While I too am quite impressed at the ease of use that Google Earth brings to desktop GIS, lets not lose site of the fact that is is only a viewer of GIS. ArcGIS, while more expensive allows GIS analysis as well as viewing the same and more GIS datasets that Google Earth does. Also ArcView is “only” about $1,500 and the 3D Analyst extension is about “$2,500”, much less that the $10,000+ figure quoted above. To compare Google Earth with ArcGIS is about the same as comparing Word Pad with Microsoft Word. To even list all the functions that ArcView does beyond Google Earth would take pages on pages of this blog. Don’t lose sight of the purpose of Google Earth, nor what ArcGIS is about.

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