Google Grabs 3-D Mapping Startup

By buying Keyhole, the search giant gains a huge geospatial database and software for viewing mapping data and satellite images.

Google Inc. on Wednesday branched out into 3-D digital mapping with the acquisition of Keyhole Corp.

In its second acquisition this year, Google has bought a startup company that connects consumers, businesses and public agencies to a multi-terabyte database of mapping data and images gathered from satellites and airplanes.

Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

Keyhole, founded in 2001, sells software for viewing 3-D maps and images from as far away as space and as close as street level.

With the software and an Internet connection, users can view a street corner around the world, find a local hospital, map a road trip or measure the distance between two points, Jonathan Rosenberg, vice president of product marketing at Google, said in a statement.

"Keyhole is a valuable addition to Googles efforts to organize the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful," Rosenberg said.

A Google spokesman declined to elaborate on how the search company plans to integrate the mapping technology into its search products.

Keyholes 29 employees all are joining Google, the spokesman said, and they wont have to travel far. Both companies are based in Mountain View, Calif.

Keyhole offers its client software in two editions, consumer and professional. It also sells an enterprise suite with client and server software for organizations wanting to publish geospatial data.

The software connects through the Internet to Keyholes mapping and image database.

In one of Googles first steps, it reduced the price of the consumer version, Keyhole 2 LT, to $29.95 from $69.95. Google said the service will continue without interruption for current users.

In July, just before its IPO, Google also entered the digital photo management market with its acquisition of Pasadena, Calif.-based Picasa Inc.

The company has been largely mum about its plans for the acquisitions, but Google is facing increased competition in the Web search market. Yahoo Inc. early this year launched its own search technology, and Microsoft Corp.s MSN division is developing its own algorithmic search engine.


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