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Google Picks Up Digital Mapping Company

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NEW YORK Google has made another move towards diversification, purchasing digital mapping company Keyhole Corp.

Three-year-old Keyhole combines a database of mapping information and images collected from satellites and airplanes with software to give users a three-dimensional digital image of the location that they've requested. Users can zoom in from space-level to street-level, tilt and rotate the view or search for other info such as hotels, parks, ATMs or subways.

The purchase, of which financial terms were not disclosed, is a part of Google's efforts to branch out beyond traditional Web search. The Mountain View, Calif., company has increasingly introduced an array of services, including its Gmail e-mail service, Orkut online community, desktop search application and mobile phone-based search product.

In today's Google blog posting, Jonathan Rosenberg, vice president of product management, wrote, "We've always loved Powers of 10, the classic 1977 film by Charles and Ray Eames that takes you on a visual ride from inside an atom to the edge of space in under 10 minutes. It turns out Keyhole brings a similarly astonishing perspective to its visual mapping software, and it's an incredibly powerful information tool besides. That's why we've acquired the company. We like the way the Keyhole folks think, and can't wait to get under the hood to see how this service might assist Google users around the world in finding the information they need."