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Yahoo sends MapQuest packing

The Web portal says it has stopped using AOL Time Warner's online street-finder unit and has instead created its own mapping service.

Yahoo said Wednesday that it has stopped using AOL Time Warner online street-finder unit MapQuest and has instead created its own mapping service.

Yahoo's service, which continues to look and operate like the one powered by MapQuest, is built on data providecnd by Navigation Technologies, Geographic Data Technology, and software application providers Telcontar and Sagent Technology.

A Yahoo representative told CNET News.com the decision was not based on competition with AOL Time Warner. Instead, Yahoo wanted more control over the way online maps are incorporated into its Web services.

"What we have done is decided to go out and take the individual pieces and make our own black box," said Andrew Braccia, director of business development for Yahoo's listings unit.

For Patrick Keane, an analyst at Jupiter Media Metrix, the decision to drop MapQuest was an obvious move to limit the reach of one of Yahoo's greatest competitors.

"The only people they care about is AOL and MSN," Keane said. "Mapping is important, but it's more about do they want their competitors to have more information and data about their users."

AOL spokeswoman Kathie Lentz-Brockman confirmed that Yahoo had decided to go into the mapping business for itself. She added that MapQuest's contract with Yahoo was scheduled to expire in a couple of months.

Like e-mail and instant messaging, online maps have been a cornerstone service for many Web portals such as Yahoo. Online mapping has become a popular feature on Yahoo, but one that may have difficulty generating significant revenue. As with most of Yahoo, mapping relies on advertising, which is experiencing a spending recession.

Still, MapQuest remains a popular service and is being used by many other online services. The service has 1,400 licensed customers and has created more than 10 billion maps and routes since 1996, according to MapQuest.