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Internet

WorldPages spans globe

Another electronic directory has launched on the Web, this one combining yellow and white page listings, interactive mapping, and restaurant reviews.

Another electronic directory has launched on the Web, this one combining yellow and white page listings, interactive mapping, and restaurant reviews.

WorldPages claims to be the most comprehensive international directory available, sporting 112 million listings from the United States and Canada, plus links to 55 other nations, boosting the total to 170 million worldwide.

"This is an enormous advantage to people who do not want to surf from one Web site to another," said Timothy Dick, WorldPages' cofounder and president. "WorldPages provides a one-stop solution for end users who need information at their fingertips, whether it be an email address from California or a business address in Germany."

Restaurant reviews, listings, and photos from selected cities are provided by DineNet.

WorldPages' technology allows it to localize ads for narrower targeting, making it more attractive to small businesses that don't need the Web's global reach.

The company also plans to license its directory to other providers, most likely on an exclusive, regional basis. That would open licensing opportunities with Baby Bells, the regional telephone companies that have their own paper directories and are the major potential competitors to WorldPages. Regional phone companies face regulatory constraints about moving to the Net, however.

Competing Internet directories include BigBook and Big Yellow from regional Bell phone company Nynex. Dick regards At Hand from Pacific Bell as a complementary product and a potential partner.

"Abbey West Directories, a printer that handles yellow pages, is selling our product," Dick told CNET. "When the print directory is published, it will feature WorldPages on the cover and throughout the directory, so it's cobranded."

Most partners want at least cobranding, he added, while some want only their own brands, an arrangement WorldPages accepts. The company also provides extensive training to sales staffs of its licensees.

WorldPages is working with Xerox to make information available in hotel rooms via fax machines, combining Internet technologies with Xerox's Smart Paper technology. WorldPages is also working with Microsoft on adapting its service for handheld devices as well as with Netscape Communications.

Formed in January, WorldPages is backed by several million dollars in venture capital and has nearly 20 employees. Dick and the company are involved in Privacy Assured, a privacy initiative to convince consumers that their personal data is handled securely on the Internet.