Apple Kept Data Center Off Google Maps?

Apple's 500,000-square foot data center in Maiden, N.C. didn't show up on Google Maps and Google Earth until after Apple's iCloud announcement. Is there some conspiracy afoot?

Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt posed that question today, along with an aerial photo of Apple's new data center on his (of course) iPad. Apparently, pre-announcement there wasn't a building and then, after the announcement -- voila! a giant white building appeared on Google Earth.

We think the data center was merely an oversight. Several photos on Google Maps, and this is especially apparent on Google's Street View, can be as much as two or three years old (my evidence is that pictures of my house on Google Maps were taken prior to my move in early 2009.) Not surprisingly, Apple started construction on the data center in 2009.

Google said it uses both commercial and public images and that it merely had new information and updated the maps accordingly.  "We regularly update our imagery in Google Earth in order to provide our users with the richest, most up-to-date imagery possible," said a Google spokeswoman. "In this case, we updated our aerial imagery recently in Lenoir, N.C., which we announced on May 20, 2011." 

Either way, we don't think that Apple purposely kept photos from Google.

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