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Friday, April 16, 2004

Can Amazon Unplug Google? by John Battelle Via Business 2.0

The online retailer is planning to change the way we navigate the Web.By overlaying what you're looking for onto what you've already found -- and, ultimately, what you've consumed -- A9 aims for the holy grail of search and e-commerce. While others have tried to create personalized interfaces, none has worked so far. Users don't like to answer questionnaires about what they like and what they don't; often they lie. But Amazon already knows who you are -- or at least, what you buy. With A9, the company can factor in what you browse and search for as well. In truth, Amazon and Google are speeding from two ends toward a very fertile middle ground where commerce and search meet. When they get there, they'll have formidable company -- AOL, eBay (EBAY), Microsoft (MSFT), and Yahoo, to name a few. Udi Manber, Amazon's chief algorithms officer and Yahoo's former chief scientist says, "In general, the main problem of search is very simple: Too often people do not get the results they need. Solving that is hard. We cannot read people's minds, but we can do much better anticipating their needs and making the process much easier for them."

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