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Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Amazon's A9 Search Goes Live
Amazon's new search engine, A9.com, launched today and search guru John Battelle has the scoop.
A9, Amazon's much discussed skunk works search project goes live today, so I can finally write about it. I saw it last month (caveat: unbeknownst to me until recently, Amazon targeted me as their conduit to break this news - I think they wanted it to move from the blogosphere out, as opposed the WSJ in) and had to keep the damn thing to myself, it was hard, and here's why: On first blush it's a very, very good service, and an intriguing move by Amazon. It raises a clear question: How will Google - and more broadly, the entire search-driven world - react?

My gut tells me the public face will be one of partnership: After all, A9 uses Google' search results and displays at least two paid AdWord listings per result (I've requested comment from Google, you can imagine I'm not the only one...). But I have to wonder: What business is Google in, after all? Is it still in the business of just search - as it was back when it was cutting search provisioning deals right and left, with Yahoo (already ended), AOL (arguable imperiled due to Gmail and other trends), Ask, and Amazon? Is it really still in the business of being an OEM to others, a strategy which allowed it to steal those portals' customers? Or...has it evolved, to a business where it owns a large customer base, one it must now position itself to defend?

I've only played around with it a bit myself, but it is quite slick, with tightly integrated book results along with the search results. Although, for the moment at least, it is only book results. For instance, searching for Alfred Hitchcock brings up a list of biographies, but no Hitchcock DVDs.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 4:17 PM

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