Amazons Unit Launches Search Engine

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-04-14 Print this article Print

The beta marks the new company's first public search offering as it initially focuses on mixing personalization features and its book search technology with Google's Web results. Inc. on Wednesday continued its drive into the search market as newly-created subsidiary Inc. launched a beta version of its search site. The beta draws its Web search results from Google Inc. but adds its own twists in presenting them. It focuses on personalization features that let users view their search histories and ties into and other subsidiaries to search within books and provide information about Web-site links., based in Palo Alto, Calif. was formed in October to focus specifically on developing e-commerce search technology for Amazon.coms sites and other sites, spokeswoman Alison Diboll said. But many of the features in A9.coms beta, which include a search toolbar, appear to focus as much on Web search in general as on product search.
"A9 is looking for specific ways to make e-commerce search prospects more satisfying and efficient for customers," Diboll said. "This is the next step in that direction."
A9.coms beta site connects closely with for many of its features. It integrates in Amazon.coms "Search Inside the Book" technology, showing search results from within books sold on in a "book results" section. Udi Manber, who is now the CEO at, was behind the development of Amazon.coms book search technology. Read more here about last years launch of Amazon.coms book search technology. The beta site also requires users to use an login in order to use its personalization features that store and display a users search history. When logged in, users can view their search history both in a separate section as well as within in the Web search results. New Web results are marked as new, while those viewed before list when the user most recently viewed them. also provides a search-query shortcut in its URL. Typing in "" triggers search results for the queried term. From within the Google-powered Web results, A9 has added a Site Info button that, when scrolled across, triggers a balloon with information about the site, including others sites commonly visited by visitors to that site. The information is drawn from Alexa Internet Inc., another subsidiary of, Diboll said. The search toolbar, while including familiar features such as a query box, a popup-ad blocker and a keyword highlighter, also provides a diary feature that lets users take notes that are stored and associated with a specific Web pages. is joining the search field as it becomes increasingly competitive. Yahoo Inc. in February dropped Googles search results in favor of its own technology. Microsoft Corp. also plans to aggressively enter the market this year with its own algorithmic search engine for MSN as well as Weblog and news search services. Both Google and Yahoo both offer product-specific search, and Ask Jeeves Inc. moved into e-commerce search late in 2003.. Google also late last month added a link to its Froogle product search site onto its home page. Diboll declined to comment on how Googles e-commerce search efforts will affect the partnership but said "the relationship as it exists works well for the parties involved." Check out eWEEK.coms Enterprise Applications Center at for the latest news, reviews, analysis and opinion about productivity and business solutions. Be sure to add our enterprise applications news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:  
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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