I've always called Google Earth the 'killer app for geography teachers'. I've used it every week since it first came out.
Its tremendous visual appeal, coupled with the uses that the community made of it, with additional layers and files meant that it very quickly became the best way to start a lesson with a visual 'wow' impact. This has lessened over time, and it's remarkable how many students still haven't seen their house on it, but it remains a really valuable (and free) tool.
Within a month of the launch, I'd been in touch with the Education Officer at Google at the time, and he was kind enough to let me have a version of Google Earth Pro for a year.
Google Earth offers virtually seamless access to huge amounts of data. For more information on just how great Google Earth is, I recommend reading the final chapter of Jerry Brotton's book 'A History of the World in Twelve Maps'
Over the last few years, a lot of the emphasis for Google has been on their Mapping, and several of the features that might have been developed for Google Earth have instead been diverted to the mapping option.
There was a recent post on the Google Earth Blog by its creator Frank Taylor, which suggested that support for Google Earth might be reducing.
This was also picked up in a post by Richard Treves, who has also made impressive use of Google Earth with university students.
He asked: 'Will educators miss Google Earth' ?
Maybe the next post, on Google Map Gallery will redress some of the balance ?
There's also been a recent update to Frank's original post