Amazon, A9 Give Virtual Search Tour

Internet retail giant Amazon introduced a new feature
to an old service this week when it launched Yellow Pages — a guide
to local businesses complete with photographs.

The new service from the Seattle-based, developed by its
wholly owned search subsidiary A9, compiled 20 million photos of businesses
in 10 major United States cities over a four month period, and now say they
plan on adding more.

Using SUVs loaded with high-tech imaging gear, A9 sent drivers to 10
cities, covering “tens of thousands of miles,” to map the streets and
capture exterior images of local businesses.

“It took integrated GPS receivers, digital cameras, sophisticated
geocoding software and a lot of driving,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO,
in a statement. “But 20 million curb-side photographs later, Yellow Pages lets you see where you are going before you get there.”

Users can find listings at or by using the A9 search field on’s home page.

The list of returns includes an interactive map that provides business
locations. Clicking on a business takes users to a page that provides
detailed information of the business. There is also special Click-to-Call
feature that allows users to call the business by clicking a button. With
the click the technology phones the user and the business at the same time.

The site can also be searched by keyword, product category or business
name. Photos of businesses were taken at street level, a feature that allows
viewers to take a “virtual walk” up and down the block to see other
restaurants, offices and shops.

Other Internet search companies, such as Google ,
Yahoo and Ask Jeeves , have already
launched similar local search services in an effort to increase advertising
revenues, but haven’t used images to the extent that has produced.

Chris Winfield, president of search engine marketing firm 10E20, said
Amazon is hoping the move will help it compete with major search engines.

“Online yellow pages are big business and also becoming a very
competitive landscape as we have seen with the recent consolidations,” he
said. “Whoever emerges as the dominant player… will control a very
lucrative market where we see more and more revenues going towards.”

Winfield said the Block View enhancement from A9 gives people a reason to use A9
above other products.

“This is the first time that I have been seriously impressed with A9, and
see it as being a possible major player,” he said. “When it first debuted it
had some cool features, but the core of it was built on Google’s technologies,
and none of the features were impressive enough to make someone want to
change from Google or Yahoo in my opinion.”

So far the photos are limited to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston,
San Francisco, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, Seattle and Portland, Ore. The
company said it had plans to expand to others cities.

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