Amazon Nearly Exits Search Business

After failing to generate much interest in its search engine, Amazon confirmed Tuesday that it was removing search history and mapping features that differentiated it from competitors. In its place, a simplified front page that links to other search engines has appeared.

A9 now makes heavy use of Windows Live Search and Alexa, as well as links to some 400 other sources.

In a recent survey, A9 was ranked 83rd among all US search engines by Web analytics firm Hitwise. The site has never ranked much higher than that in its two-and-a-half year existence, according to past reports.

Amazon said that the site was shifting to a model that it thought would benefit its users most. "A9 continues to innovate in the area of search, which includes operating A9 and enhancing product search on," spokesman Drew Herdener said in a statement.

Less than a year ago, A9 introduced a street-level photo mapping service that rivaled that of mapping leader Google. The service was made available across 22 cities, and complemented another offering from A9 that offered photos of businesses and the surrounding area to users in Yellow Page listings.

The Yellow Pages listings have met a similar fate, as well as diary, bookmarking features, and the A9 toolbar. Amazon said all features were discontinued on Friday.

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