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Photo-Mapping service from


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August 20, 2005: A small search engine owned by web retailer is introducing a photo-mapping service which will show the photos of city-blocks requesting a surrounding address. With this venture, the company hopes to become a more popular Internet destination.

Online mapping has always been a crowded field with major players like America Online's, Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news), Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s Amazon joins the race wtih the service, which became available on Monday.

A9 databse has 32 mllion photos of 22 U.S cities to distinguish it from the rest of the pack.

Earlier this year, the Palo Alto-based search engine first began to post street-level photographs of specific addresses as part of its Yellow Pages listings. The new feature extends the old one by showing photos of entire city blocks alongside a traditional map which shows a grid of streets.

A9 believes that the street wise view of the new system will be more helpful and understandable than a recent Google mapping upgrade which shows satellite view of the neighbourhoods. 

"We're making maps slightly less abstract and closer to the real world," said Udi Manber, A9's chief executive.

When a user requests a specific route on A9 service, the system shows the photos of the prominent businesses along the route provided their photos are stored in the search engine's index.

Since the January debut of the Yellow pages service, Amazon has added 15 million pictures to its database. Trucks equipped with digital cameras and Global Positioning System (GPS) were deployed to take pictures and store them.

A9 will support users in the following U.S cities. Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Denver, Detroit; Fargo, N.D.; Houston; Los Angeles, Miami; New York; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Sacramento, Calif.; Salt Lake City; San Diego; San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; and Washington D.C.



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