Yahoo remakes mapping site

Yahoo Inc. has moved its online mapping service to a new platform that the company said makes the Web site faster and more accurate.

The new mapping platform will make its debut on Wednesday, along with other enhancements to the site in areas like user interface design, according to the Sunnyvale, California company.

Yahoo has been using mapping technology from deCarta Inc. for over five years, but with the new platform, developed in-house, Yahoo Maps will perform better, offer more precise results and make backend upgrades easier to implement, Yahoo said.

Internet companies have in recent years put much effort in improving their online mapping sites, which have become critical to their local search services. Almost always linked, local search engines and online maps let people place addresses on a map, find business listings, obtain driving directions, view aerial and satellite images, read reviews for restaurants and other establishments and find entertainment event information, among other things.

As local search sites increase their popularity with end users, marketers are increasing their ad spending on them. The Kelsey Group Inc. expects advertisers to spend US$11.1 billion in 2011 in these sites, compared with $4.1 billion last year, a compound annual growth rate of 22.3 percent.

The new platform will not disrupt the mapping service's existing APIs (application programming interfaces) nor will third-party applications built using them require retooling, said Jeremy Kreitler, director of product management for Yahoo Maps.

On Wednesday, Yahoo Maps users will also see more detailed renditions of neighborhoods and buildings in New York City and San Francisco. Yahoo will deliver similar improvements to other cities' maps this year. Yahoo also enhanced the way the site prints out maps.

Yahoo plans to add country-specific mapping sites for France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. this year, although the main Yahoo Maps site already has maps for these and 31 other countries.

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