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Bing maps, not Google, will track Santa

Dec. 18, 2012 at 8:23 PM   |   Comments

COLORADO SPRINGS, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Google won't see Santa Claus; the North American Aerospace Defense Command is switching to Microsoft's Bing maps for its annual NORAD Tracks Santa project.

"NORAD and Google have decided to go their separate ways and pursue other opportunities," Michael Kucharek, a spokesman for the project, told ABC News. "It was a mutually agreed upon decision that transpired earlier this year."

NORAD had used Google Maps since 2007 for the interactive experience that lets smartphone users spot and pinpoint Santa in the command's app.

NORAD said its Track Santa app has been downloaded nearly 922,000 times through Apple's iTunes, almost 558,000 times on Google Play for Android users and about 2,500 times by Windows Phone 8 users.

NORAD began tracking Santa from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1955 when a small child called the base in hopes of speaking with Santa Claus.

The base phone number was printed by mistake in a Sears newspaper ad and children placing calls to Santa were actually connected to the base, where base personnel played along.

"There's a lot of generations now who get in front of the computer with grandma and grandpa and follow Santa," Kucharek said. "We're sort of moving with the times and the technology and expanding the program."

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