I'm assuming that the beta G maps is based around Keyhole technology and this was just a throw in for the wow factor.
I did hear some rumblings on the news about people raising privacy concerns with this feature citing Keyhole's previous interaction with the CIA. That seemed a bit over the top to me, but it all contributes to the buzz.
Value to me. Planning a trip to Florida and I can see the proximity to the beach and local attractions by "flying over" the area in advance. I found out the hotel I originally booked requires more walking than I intended to do. I like the satelite photo integration. It came along just as I was beginning to marginalize Google as my main search resource.
I suspect too Google will someday allow users to swoop closer and switch views for a full picture of establishments along the lines of A9s product.