I'm hustling to get up to speed on Amazon's new A9 search tool that just came out in beta Wednesday. John Batelle at Searchblog rocks and was targeted by Amazon to get the inside scoop rather than the Wall Street Journal. How cool is that? Score another point for grassroots journalism aka blogging!
John's got a short interview at Business 2.0 called Can Amazon Unplug Google?. He thinks A9 is a big, big deal. And I'm on board. Amazon is already at the head of the big-player pack when it comes to swinging out to create value for its customers, so we shouldn't be surprised. Regular readers know I've been calling for innovation in the search space since writing Google Sucks on January 19th.
Here's the quickie set of excerpts from B2:
A9 is a credible step toward making a search engine that knows you and acts as your agent online...
While others have tried to create personalized interfaces, none has worked so far...
the best part, from Amazon's perspective, is that the more things you buy at Amazon, and the more you browse with A9, the better the company will know you. Ideally, it's win-win -- you get better results, Amazon gets more sales.
it uses Google's search results -- Amazon and Google have a longstanding search deal -- but builds on them with an elegant set of features that, taken together, make A9 seem like a new way to search.John is speaking my language. I still hope to see desktop search tools (with perhaps a web option when you aren't at your own computer or are running souped up cell phone as a browser) that do it my way. But the phrase "a search engine that knows you and acts as your agent online" is very appealing.
In John's interview with A9's leader, Udi Manber, Amazon's chief algorithms officer and Yahoo's former chief scientist, Manber says:
But the nitty gritty on A9 and what's happening in the Search space is on John's blog: NEWS: A9, Amazon's Search Portal, Goes Live: Reverberations Felt in Valley:
A9 is a very, very good service, and an intriguing move by Amazon. It raises a clear question: How will Google - and more broadly, the entire search-driven world - react? ... If A9 is as good as it seems to be, every customer that uses and/or switches to A9 becomes an A9 search customer, and, more likely than not, a deeper and far more loyal Amazon customer ... A9 is built quite literally on top of Google. In short, Amazon has taken the best of Google, and made it, to my mind, a lot better.And then getting really interesting More on A9:
the idea of a complete, lifetime record of a person's searches and browsing history - which by the way that person can edit - is an extraordinary concept. It's taking the idea of the database of intentions to the utmost granular level of history - the individual. What, I wonder, happens to a person's search history when they die? Do they have a right to own it? Does it get passed down as a keepsake to his or her children?Amazon is not known for its timidity. Udi makes it clear that they are serious about search. Recently Yahoo dumped Google's search engine for their own.
Google must be enormously profitable by now with their long uncontested run at the top of the search engine heap. Yahoo and Amazon's entry into the Search space can only be good news for customers. Google's new Gmail is exciting - if they can work out the privacy and advertising issues (See Tim O'Reilly's pro-Gmail post and Danah Boyd's con-Gmail post for good analysis). It looks like good times ahead for adventurous customers who don't want to wait for the innovations we know are possible.