Amazon's A9 Breaks Search Barriers - InformationWeek
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3/16/2005
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Amazon's A9 Breaks Search Barriers

Company offers a collection of technologies that allow content providers to syndicate search results from their own search engines.

Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos on Wednesday introduced OpenSearch, a collection of technologies that allow content providers to syndicate search results from their own search engines. In a presentation at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego, Bezos said the product enables content aggregators like Amazon subsidiary A9.com Inc. to display those search results.

Search syndication provides a means for sites to offer specialized, or vertical, search results. Vertical searches often return more relevant results than a search of the entire Internet because they categorically constrain queries to specific topics.

On A9, users can choose to expand or restrict their queries to include results from syndicated search engines with the "add more columns" option. More than 40 sites are syndicated.

"At A9, you can select any source of information you want," says Udi Manber, CEO of A9. "For example, if you're a medical professional, you very often go to PubMed and search there. Sometimes you want to go to the Web. This allows you to put both of them side by side."

OpenSearch helps content aggregators by offering more data sources without the expense of having to develop those sources internally. But Manber claims content providers will benefit, too. "What they get is more traffic," he says, noting that the technology doesn't change the way people monetize online traffic. "If people have ads as part of their [search] results, they can still have them. We essentially are drawing people and sending them their way. Every time you open something, everybody benefits."

The principal beneficiaries of OpenSearch may be bloggers. "It's really to empower publishers and content owners," says Kevin Lee, executive chairman of search-engine marketing firm Did-It.com. He sees this approach as an alternative for those who want to work with the large search engines but don't have technical resources to deal with search-engine APIs.

Su Li Walker, a Yankee Group analyst, suggests this is Amazon's way of making up for lost time. "The search-engine market is extremely competitive," she says. "So you have A9 coming into the market late and they're using innovation to get attention."

But for sites that aren't part of the aggregator ecology, she suggests getting attention online might become more difficult.

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