RealTime IT News

Amazon.com Takes Aim at Google

Looking to take the sheen off Google's search engine dominance, online superstore Amazon.com plans to spin off a subsidiary to invest and develop e-commerce search technologies.

The Seattle-based Amazon.com has released its VP and Chief Algorithms Officer Udi Manber to be president of the A9 subsidiary, which has quietly set up shop in Palo Alto, Calif. The company will officially launch in October with approximately 30 employees, according to A9 spokesperson Alison Diboll.

"[A9] will be a new, separately branded and operated company. The goal is to invent and develop the best e-commerce search technology for the Amazon.com Web site and to license to third-party firms as well," Diboll told internetnews.com.

Diboll said A9 was "aggressively hiring" developers in the e-commerce search sector and expects the company to ramp up staff rapidly after launch.

Manber, the software developer who will head up the new venture, is no newcomer to the search space. He was a lead developer in technologies like the Search Broker, which provides a two-level web search paradigm by forwarding each query to a specific search engine and Web Glimpse, a search tool that provides a flexible combination of browsing and searching.

A former professor of computer science at the University of Arizona, Manber has done extensive development work in search and resource discovery tools, software tools, computer networks, computer security, and design of algorithms.

The launch of a subsidiary to create e-commerce searching technologies puts Amazon.com in direct competition with Google's Froogle comparison shopping engine, a tool that lets visitors browse through the merchandise categories, or type in a search term to see pictures of items and links to online stores that carry them.

Interestingly, Amazon.com has a partnership with Google that calls for the online retailer to carry Google's paid search listings and its Web search functionality.

A9's Diboll declined comment on potential conflicts between the two firms.

The launch of Amazon.com's A9, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes just days after mega portal Yahoo rolled out a product search feature that lets users compare products by price and obtain information on shipping and handling, as well as product reviews.

Earlier this week, Dealtime changed its name to Shopping.com as part of an attempt to establish itself in merging worlds of search and e-commerce.