Advertising
anchor link to jump to start of content

The Seattle Times Company NWclassifieds NWsource seattletimes.com
seattletimes.com Business and Technology Home delivery Contact us Search archives
Your account  Today's news index  Weather  Traffic  Movies  Restaurants  Today's events
  NWCLASSIFIEDS
  NWSOURCE
  SHOPPING
  SERVICES





Thursday, April 15, 2004 - Page updated at 12:45 A.M.
Weekly interest and loan rates | Home values

Northwest stock contest 2004 | Consumer affairs

Amazon launches its own Internet search service

By Matthew Fordahl
The Associated Press

E-mail E-mail this article
Print Print this article
Print Search archive
0
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Online retailer Amazon.com quietly launched an Internet search service today, jumping into a marketplace already crowded with tools and promised offerings from Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft.

The service, in test mode for now, is operated by a Palo Alto, Calif.-based subsidiary and branded separately from Amazon's retail business.

Like its competitors, Amazon's A9.com offers both a Web site and an Internet Explorer toolbar from which users can enter search terms. Searches also can be limited to just Amazon.com products — as well as the text of books available at Amazon.com.

Internet search tools — an industry now dominated by Google — will be a core component of any major Internet or operating system player in the future, analysts say. Microsoft is expected to launch its own homegrown search technology later this year.

A9.com's service currently relies heavily on a partnership with Google, which supplies many of the search results, and Amazon's Alexa subsidiary, which provides traffic, other sites of interest and additional information on specific Web sites.

Search results also include text ads from Google's sponsored links program.

Alison Diboll, an A9.com spokeswoman, declined to say whether the company eventually plans to create its own search technology. She confirmed that Amazon plans to use the technology to serve both its online store and the rest of the Web.

"Having this e-commerce search technology as a separate company is part of Amazon's continuing development from an online retailer to a technology services company," she said.

Google currently partners with more than 130 companies to supply search results, Google spokesman David Krane said.

"A core component of our business ... has been providing access to Google from a number of entry points on the Web," he said.

Some filtering does appear to be taking place. A search of the word "porn" on A9, for instance, returned links to articles on the war against pornography, documentaries and anti-porn groups. A Google search on the same term returns actual porn sites.
 
advertising
Unlike other Internet search tools, users sign onto A9.com with a username and password from their regular Amazon.com account. A9 also offers an anonymous site that does not require a username and password but lacks some features.

A9.com's toolbar, which appears in Internet Explorer Web browsers, also provides a diary tool through which users can jot down notes about a particular Web site. Once entered, the notes can be read from any computer, after the user has logged on. The service also stores the addresses of sites visited.

A9.com made a strong effort to word its privacy policy in plain English, DiBoll said.

Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego, agreed.

"I will give them kudos for the privacy policy in terms of its format, its readability and the fact they're giving viewers examples (of how information will be used)," she said.

She also said A9.com appears to be less invasive than Google's proposed free Gmail e-mail service, which will electronically scan messages so it can distribute relevant ads alongside incoming messages.

"If we're comparing strategies here, what A9 and Amazon.com are doing is a lot less intrusive from a privacy perspective than what Google is proposing in Gmail," she said.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

More business & technology headlines

 BUSINESS/TECH NEWS
 SEARCH

Today Archive

Advanced search

 
advertising

seattletimes.com home
Home delivery | Contact us | Search archive | Site map | Low-graphic
NWclassifieds | NWsource | Advertising info | The Seattle Times Company

Copyright

Back to topBack to top