Amazon's A9 Search Project Launches
from the competitors-or-friends... dept
Well, the story of the day, it appears is going to be that Amazon's stealthy search startup A9 has launched. Despite the original stories about A9 from last year talking about how Amazon was taking on Google with A9, A9 actually appears to just be a different interface for Google, with some tie-ins to Amazon. They're using Google's search, with a few funky additional features. First off, the search URLs are incredibly simple, as they just include whatever you are searching for. So, a search on A9 for "Techdirt" can be written as http://a9.com/techdirt. This makes it easy to do searches directly from the URL bar, as well as to pass on the results of searches. Then, of course, come the Amazon tie-ins - including direct ties to Alexa's site info results about any page and a direct link to Amazon's full text book search feature. The service also appears to record your search history to let you return to it. They also will record which sites you've clicked through, and let you know if you've already visited that site. I wonder if all the folks complaining about Gmail will now complain about this recording of search results? In the meantime, while this may just look like a new (more useful in some circumstances) interface for Google, it still raises a ton of questions about where this places Amazon vs. Google. As John Battelle points out, they may paint a happy partnership face on it - but the original story remains the same. The two companies risk becoming much more competitive... especially if Google's real goal is to become the interface for everything. Instead, Amazon has just stepped ahead of them as the interface for some things. Update: Reading more into the features of A9, there are some other funky features in the toolbar that they launched with it that I'm positive will upset some privacy folks. It looks like it's really just a morphing between a Google-like toolbar and Alexa's toolbar in that it records where you go while letting you do searches. It also lets you take notes and annotate a page, which you can then access from any computer where you've installed the A9 toolbar.