I understand that Google Licences its High resolution satellite imagery from Digital Globe and being in the Imagery field I know that raw Imagery cost a huge lot being the major barrier for access to it for ordinary people and even people in emergencies.
This barrier is artificially kept in place by Satellite vendors such as Digital Globe and GeoEye. They only bend back for the large scale customers such as Governments and Corporations who buy 1000's of scenes and use up the capacity on the satellite. This is a good and working business model but is not certainly flexible enough for a retail user, as I would call a person purchasing a single scene. The Imagery market place needs to evolve to be friendlier to the retail user. Google with its data delivery capacity is a step in the right direction. Digital Globe should see the opportunity that exists here and exploit the marketplace. The profit margins may be slimmer but the populace will be hooked to Imagery as they are to Webcomics or Phone Ringtones. This will bode well for the Next Generation satellites such as Worldview.
Frankly the Imagery business could use a lot of streamlining and less back biting and misunderstandings on licence issues.