Find Amazon on the Block

Amazon adds virtual yellow pages

A9’s so-called block view lets users see storefronts and virtually stroll the streets of 10 cities. Inc. launched a local Internet search service on Wednesday that allows users to virtually walk streets and see photos of businesses, a move that could help it better compete with established search providers such as Google Inc.
A9’s so-called block view allows users to see storefronts and virtually stroll the streets of 10 cities, including New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the company has collected more than 20 million photographs.

It took a few days in each city to gather the images using trucks equipped with digital cameras, global positioning system receivers and proprietary software.

“You can virtually go to an area, see the business and walk around the block,” Chief Executive Udi Manber said of the service in an interview. “You get a feel for the neighborhood.”

Amazon’s A9 gives users access to Web and image search results from Google, book pages stored on, movie information from the Internet Movie Database, and reference information from

While the service is the latest salvo in the cut-throat sector dominated by Google, analysts have said A9 would have its work cut out to change the competitive landscape.

Yet A9’s Manber hopes that additions like voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, technology that lets users call a business with a click of a button will draw more people to the local search service.

He added it takes just a few days to capture an entire city and that the eventual goal is to eventually add as many places as possible across the country. Other cities currently available are: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Seattle and Portland, Ore.

Note: Amazon discontinued both Yellow Pages and Block View in 2006.

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