If you're a search geek like me, you may have been wondering when Amazon.com
My very first choice for search is generally Google
In more pop culture focus, Amazon has also integrated results from its popular Internet Movie Database (popularly known as IMDb), which many Web surfers turn to for movie trivia. There are also "reference" results, complete with encyclopedia descriptions.
Also nifty: If you pass your cursor over a "site info" button, A9 gives you an idea of what a site offers without requiring a click over. (Ask Jeeves has a similar feature, which yields snapshots of site results, called "Binoculars.") A9's version contains potentially useful information such as traffic rank, sites that link to it, and other related sites surfers hit. Other benefits include Web-based bookmarks, popup blocking, and a "diary" feature to make notes about sites.
Despite A9's gee-whiz features, including search results that are flavored by previous searches, I wonder whether the obvious e-commerce link could sour the perception of user friendliness. For example, to install A9's toolbar feature, an Amazon account is required. While savvy, it could feel too heavy-handed to users.
Although Google, Yahoo!
While it was in beta, I kind of thought that Amazon's A9 was just a casual dalliance into the search space, fueled by its old-school Internet credentials and a desire to keep up with the Joneses. However, I can see it may very well be a force to contend with in the space between e-commerce and search -- that is, if folks don't feel a bit too pinpointed and profiled. I'm curious as to how this experiment will turn out.
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. She wishes she knew exactly what "A9" stood for.