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RealTime IT News

Advertising on Google Earth?

According to reports published on Boakes.org, Apple is up to something big in western Australia: an iPod that ain't so mini.

In celebration of its upcoming anniversary, the company is building an iPod replica the size of eight soccer fields to advertise its most popular product in satellite mapping software, such as Google Earth.

According to the same report, Apple is building the gigantic replica over an abandoned mineral mine, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs is said to have won from Australian tycoon Kerry Packer in a hotly contested poker hand.

Apple refused to comment.

But blogger Rich Boakes of Boakes.org went ahead and copped to his April Fool's joke anyway.

"I'd expected my mum, and a few other close friends, to read [the report] and laugh," Boakes told internetnews.com. "I hadn't expected thousands of hits and messages. [It's] something of a surprise."

But perhaps Boakes shouldn't have been surprised by his 15 minutes.

After all, some are pursuing the kind of Google Earth advertising Boakes thought fantastic.

German firm Artfield turns open farmland into huge advertisements for companies such as Budget Rent-a-Car and Swissair.

The rooftops of Target chain stores are marked in satellite maps by huge red replicas of their trademarks.

And then there's longtime Cape Cod rooftop advertiser Colin Fitzgerald who launched his own Web site called RoofShout.com soon after checking out Google Earth for the first time.

"I started looking at the blank rooftops and said oh my gosh!" Fitzgerald told internetnews.com. He soon put rooftop space for sale on eBay and found more than a few takers.

When Fitzgerald heard about the gigantic Australian iPod, he laughed. The story reminded him of his own experiment with advertising in Google Earth. Just as Boakes made something out of nothing with Google Earth and a Web site, Fitzgerald says he might have, too.

"Oh, there was a lot of media attention. My wife didn't know what was going on -- CNN reporters calling me and all," Fitzgerald said.

But after he and his potential clients discovered that satellite updates for mapping services come rarely and randomly, interest fizzled. "I couldn't really generate interest from advertisers. I'd like to say there was but from what I'd gathered, [rooftop advertising] just doesn't generate interest."

At least not from most.

Others will continue to believe in giant iPods and rooftop riches.

"The first rule of fairy tale," said expert Rich Boakes, "is that you have to want to believe, after all."