Google, Microsoft and Amazon.com are competing to offer customers interactive maps with aerial, satellite and street-level photos on the Web. Some say Internet searches could soon have online geography included, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Last month Google opened Google Earth, its mapping device that uses satellite images to allow users a to zoom in on the world. Amazon’s A9.com answered back with its Block View service featuring photos of businesses and storefronts taken at street level. Microsoft’s MSN.com will be launching Virtual Earth later this summer that will combine online searches with aerial images and maps. Mapping services and satellite photos were around before, but now users can explore the entire globe while sitting at their desks, according to the report. The free Google Earth download offers a bird’s-eye view of the world, and for $20 a year an upgrade is available through Google Earth Plus. Block View from A9.com shows street-level pictures taken by photographers driving around in trucks, while Virtual Earth will combine search results with images of buildings, streets and landmarks. Online mapping services already attract an estimated 58 million people a month. Yahoo! was the first to offer mapping services, however not with aerial view, and MapQuest delivered satellite images in the past, but stopped because viewer interest fell.
See all comments