Microsoft has acquired U.K.-based mapping services firm Multimap for a sum of $50 million.

An excerpt from VNUnet:

Multimap already offer business-focussed location-based services, such as proximity searching and aerial images with map overlay, all available on web, mobile, PDA, kiosk, and iTV platforms. Multimap’s asset tracking service for example locates assets in real time and can reverse geocode, to give an address from geographic coordinates which can be browsed to or sent as a text message.

The acquisition is seen as Microsoft playing catch-up to Google’s popular map service. Multimap will be integrated into Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, Live Search, Live services, and MSN. In the United Kingdom, Multimap has been famous for its relevant details on public transport and other essential local information. However, Google Maps continues to be the dominant leader in the mapping space with an estimated 21.4% reach globally.

More information:

Microsoft Snatches Up Multimap (InternetNews)

Microsoft Buys Multimap, European Online Mapping Company (InformationWeek)

Microsoft folds-in Multimap for ‘$50m’ (Register)