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Engines take their act on the road

Search engines are expanding from the Web to real-world geography.

Search engines first made their mark on the Internet by keeping people from getting lost on the Web. Now, some of them help keep people from getting lost period.

Excite City.Net, a travel and geographical guide operated by Internet search company Excite, signed deals today to provide online access to maps.

The deals represent just one of the techniques that search engines are using to both broaden their services and to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market.

The first agreement will give Excite City.Net users access to domestic and international maps, satellite maps, thumbnails, and a custom map design application from Magellan. The second agreement adds all the maps available from GeoSystems Global that match the Excite service's featured travel destinations. Currently, GeoSystems provides only U.S. maps, but the service will add international ones in the future.

In related news, Navigation Technologies is offering Driver Directions, a free Web service that spells out exact directions from one address or site to another.

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