Amazon has staked its plot in the search engine neighborhood by knocking on the doors of Yahoo, MSN, and even Google with its A9 Search Engine, now open to the public in beta. Not a shopping engine and not an Internet powered bookmobile, Amazon is taking a serious move by actually offering a true personalized search engine, albeit powered by Google.
A test search on A9 returns three different groups of search results are given in a tab format, web search results, open book search results, and open search history – a personalized search function which requires member registration.
Web search results are powered by Google and do show paid sponsored advertising, which are provided by Google AdWords. The sponsored links appear to be placed on the page in “Yahoo format,” with the first two (highest priced) featured at the top of the search results with lower bidded two sponsored links after the organic search listings.
In addition to web search results A9 offers book results from Amazon.com that include Search Inside the Book. According to A9, when you see an excerpt on any of the book results, click on the page number to see the actual page from that book – for registered Amazon customers.
Search history stores all registered users A9 searches on their servers and and can only be accessed by the registered user. Basically, clicking on a link performs the search again and search history can be edited or deleted.
A9 also offers a toolbar which may intime take the place of Amazon’s Alexa Toolbar. The A9 toolbar offers search, Diary, search history, and site info along with the standard toolbar functions- a popup blocker and a search term highlighter.
And yes, A9′s toolbar does track your web surfing habits; from A9′s Terms of Service: A9.COM’S TOOLBAR SERVICE COLLECTS AND STORES FULL UNIFORM RESOURCE LOCATORS (“URLS”) FOR EVERY WEB PAGE THAT YOU VIEW WHILE USING THE A9.COM TOOLBAR SERVICE. THESE URLS SOMETIMES INCLUDE PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION. URLS FROM SECURE (HTTPS) WEB PAGES ARE NOT COLLECTED. BY COLLECTING URLS, A9.COM TRACKS AND COLLECTS A RECORD OF USERS’ WEB BROWSING ACTIVITY WITHIN AND ACROSS WEBSITES. A9 nor Amazon will share your surfing or private information with any other parties.
One feature which make’s the A9 toolbar unique is its Diary. Using the Diary function, notes can be taken on any web page, and referenced when the user visits that page again.
A9′s about page also states that “To see you entry, just go back to the page with your entry. If the diary bar isn’t shown, it will automatically open. If you don’t remember the specific page you made a note on, just open the Diary menu (using the arrow next to the diary button) and you will see your last fifty diary entries (arranged by site) as well as all your diary entries for the site you currently are on.”
A9 is headed by Udi Manber, an incredibly respected computer scientist and former chief technology architect at Yahoo. Manber has been with Amazon for two years and helped to develop the company’s “Search Inside the Book” feature. Manber transferred to A9 last year and heads the project’s engineers.
A9 is currently in beta, as the site is tested and search information becomes more open, the Search Engine Journal will bring more of this exciting addition to the search engine system.