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News: A9 Launches New Version

By - September 14, 2004

a9-logo-lg.gifMonday I went down to Palo Alto to meet with Udi Manber, CEO of A9. He wanted to show me the next release of his engine, and I was eager to see it. I knew Udi had a number of improvements up his sleeve, and tonight A9 plans to launch them. That same day, Josh Quittner, my editor at Business 2.0, asked if I wanted to write up the A9 news for his site – turns out that this time, Amazon was briefing a lot of journalists, not just one humble blogger (as they did with me in April.) Sure, I said, happy to write it up, but I don’t want to write two entries – could I just post what I would have written here, over on his site, and point my readers to it? No problem, he said. So my write up is over here, on the Business 2.0 site, out on the “front porch” as Josh likes to call it, open to all. Come on back here to discuss the new engine once you’ve read my initial impressions.

PS – I don’t write the headlines, I am afraid. Why editors can’t help but focus on Google, I dunno….

Update: Stories from NYT, BusinessWeek Online, Cnet, Slashdot (where I get banged for saying A9 “raises the bar”. Hey, so be it. I like the service, and if I didn’t, I’d say that too.)

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7 thoughts on “News: A9 Launches New Version

  1. daniel says:

    nice article, a9 is aesthetically appealing but im not sure about that history thing.. however, amazon has won me over time so there’s hope for a9

  2. The default of showing the results of the image search has got to go, if they are planning to attract some corporate users. On some common queries Google ImageSearch tends to serve up some pr0n (or er0tica, but let’s not get into that debate), which in A9 is included into results by default, unless you tweak the preferences page, or tell it you want Strict filtering instead of Moderate.

    This is not A9’s fault, it is clearly Google’s, I am just questioning their default of showing image results off the Moderate filter.

  3. Jeff Clavier says:

    The presentation of results in A9 is certainly a plus compared to the tabbed UI of Yahoo and Google.

    As I tried to use the History button on a search, A9 displayed previous searches I had done on the site for that term but also one I had done on Vivisimo. But not Google or Yahoo…

  4. Buster says:


    You’re great usually BUT you’re bordering on hyberbole here. A9 must have made you feel good by inviting you to Palo Alto in April or something! Some of this is novel, such as Diary and some of the UI, but most of it is simply rehashed or repurposed stuff, in some cases from a long time ago. (Things you should recognize from your Standard days.)

    The Discover tab is just Alexa Internet, still trying to be salvaged after all these years (still trying to justify that $250mm acquisition, I see, Mr Bezos). The Gurunet stuff is cool but the utility will be infrequent, even to researchers. Also the major engines already handle this with “what is RSS” and the like. (There’s a reason Gurunet has never caught on after all these years, same as Alexa.) The Movies tab is just IMDB repurposed, and will also be a very infrequent need – and is probably just a way to hawk DVDs. And, of course, the main event: the search is still from Google, so they don’t even own the keys to the most important thing on their site! Lastly, A9 has no traffic (even on the Amazon-owned Alexa it is ranked very, very, very, very low) and I’m not sure how they’re going to get it just by offering a bunch of previously existing stuff next to Google Search?

    As for Udi Manber, he has managed a web directory at Yahoo (not search), built inside the book (not search), and now repurposed a lot of preexisting stuff on top of someone else’s engine, with a novel but very cluttered UI, for a site that no one uses. Not sure how that constitutes innovation or a threat to Google, at least not at the level of importantance you ascribe to it.


  5. Mike says:

    Buster noted the popularity of A9. It resides lower on Alexa rankings than Blowsearch, LookSmart and Mamma currently. I think of it as just a tool for Amazon to move viewers to the shopping site. Obviously that is the goal and users may sense that before they even type in a query.
    Plus, let’s face it. Google by another name regarding results.

  6. pb says:

    “I think of it as just a tool for Amazon to move viewers to the shopping site.”

    Possibly. Although they will need to add the conspicuously absent shopping search.

  7. julie says:

    Interesting note on a search for “russian”. I went and checked it and sure enough wasn’t safe for work or what I would consider “moderately” safe. I checked again this morning and you have to dig a few pages in to find any pron. Whereas google is still showing pron right on page one. They improve the moderate “filter”?

    I like the images and url searches on the same page, I don’t like my searches being tied into my amazon account.