Maporama Picks Microsoft's Virtual Earth over Google

Maporama International, a French location services company, has partnered with Microsoft Corp. to use its Virtual Earth mapping and satellite imagery, the companies said on Thursday.

Maporama's business is focused on location-based services, such as back-end Web server technology to incorporate various mapping features into Web sites, said Ludovic Broquereau, Maporama's vice president for corporate marketing. The company also provides services and creates software incorporating GPS (global position system) data, among other products.

Maporama, a 45-person company founded in 2000, already works with about 30 different mapping providers, Broquereau said. Google Inc.'s mapping and satellite products were also initially under consideration, but Broquereau said Microsoft's product road map is a better fit for Maporama's needs.

Maporama was also attracted to Microsoft's oblique imagery, which is so far not available with Google, Broquereau said. Microsoft calls the feature "bird's-eye view," so buildings and landscapes can be viewed closer up at a 45-degree angle.

Overall, negotiations with Microsoft were easier than with Google, and Maporama already uses Microsoft's products, Broquereau said.

Virtual Earth will be integrated into Maporama's product line over the next few months, Broquereau said.

One of Maporama's clients is Accor, the European hotel company. As an example, Broquereau said Virtual Earth satellite and oblique imagery could be woven into Accor's Web site as an attractive feature for the site's users.

Maporama did not disclose the financial arrangement with Microsoft.

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