Google buys satellite image firm Keyhole

The search giant has already slashed the price of Keyhole's flagship product, which lets viewers see photos of locations around the globe.

Matt Hines Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Matt Hines
covers business software, with a particular focus on enterprise applications.
Matt Hines
2 min read
Search giant Google said Wednesday that it has acquired Keyhole, a company specializing in Web-based software that allows people to view satellite images from around the globe.

Financial terms of the deal were not announced, but Google said it has cut pricing for Keyhole's flagship software package, Keyhole 2 LT, from $69.95 to $29.95.

The acquisition of Keyhole underscores Google's efforts to widen its search capabilities beyond basic Web page results, as competition in the search sector heats up.

One example of the company's growth strategy is a feature that lets surfers see excerpts from some books. The company began testing the service last year and incorporated it into its main search engine earlier this month.

Google also recently unveiled Google Desktop Search, a thin-client application that lets people retrieve e-mail, Microsoft Office documents, AOL chat logs and a history of Web pages previously viewed, all via a Web browser.

Google faces competition in the Web search arena from a variety of sources, including Amazon.com and a host of new, smaller companies.

Keyhole, founded in 2001, offers software that lets Internet users view geographic images collected from satellites and airplanes. The technology relies on a multiterabyte database of mapping information.

The software gives users the ability to zoom in from space level; in some cases, it can zoom in all the way to a street-level view. The company does not have high-resolution imagery for the entire globe, but its Web site offers a list of cities that are available for more detailed viewing. The company has focused most on covering large metropolitan areas in the United States and is working to expand its coverage.

The software lets viewers tilt and rotate an image. Users can also search for information such as the locations of hotels, parks, ATMs and subways.