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Summary:

About a month ago Nicholas Carr suggested that Internet search was fast becoming a commodity, because there was very little differentiation between MSN, Yahoo or Google. That’s why all the action around toolbars, desktop widgets and desktop search. Google knows this, as do its competitors. They’re […]

About a month ago Nicholas Carr suggested that Internet search was fast becoming a commodity, because there was very little differentiation between MSN, Yahoo or Google. That’s why all the action around toolbars, desktop widgets and desktop search.

Google knows this, as do its competitors. They’re all looking for ways to increase switching costs, or, as we used to say, make search sticky.

Carr made some good, though debatable, points. But even he couldn’t have predicted the ultimate act of commoditization – giving away the very index. John Battelle, reports that Amazon.com’s Alexa is planning to do exactly that, and will announce that as soon as tomorrow.

Anyone can also use Alexa’s servers and processing power to mine its index to discover things – perhaps, to outsource the crawl needed to create a vertical search engine, for example. Or maybe to build new kinds of search engines entirely, or …well, whatever creative folks can dream up……The fees? One dollar per CPU hour consumed. $1 per gig of storage used. $1 per 50 gigs of data processed. $1 per gig of data uploaded (if you are putting your new service up on their platform)….consumption charges” depending on “consuming processor cycles, or storage, or bandwidth.”

The argument thus far has been that it is tough to do the indexing, build the infrastructure and stay competitive. Only a handful have been able to compete with the GYM gang. Gigablast (my personal favorite) is one such search service. Still, no one has pulled an Alexa. Interesting move, but quite understandable. Amazon knows it has little or no chance of being a player in the search game. John thinks that by offering an “outsourced index” it become a player. I see it slightly differently – Amazon.com is trying to inflict death by a thousand cuts to rivals including the GYM Gang.

Updated: Gopi says, “funny thing is even Amazon’s own search engine A9 is not using alexa’s data but rather depend on google for a more comprehensive index.”

  1. Alexa Totally Gets It, Opens Up API

    John Battelle has the scoop – Alexa is making its dataI available on the Amazon.com Web Services platform, and it’s a really big deal.
    Amazon’s Alexa is opening up its 5 billion web documents and 100 terabytes of data to anyone who wants …

  2. Alexa is move is a classic ‘dead man walking’ move. Total game changer because they need to change the game. Alexa is old and outdated. This is a Web 2.0 transpant to save the patient.

  3. PodTech Comments from the PodTech Gallery » Alexa’s Gets Web 2.0 Transplant Monday, December 12, 2005

    [...] Om comments echo this..”Interesting move, but quite understandable. Amazon knows it has little or no chance of being a player in the search game.” [...]

  4. Ho John Lee’s Weblog Monday, December 12, 2005

    Deconstructing search at Alexa

    Wow! Although the basic idea is straightforward, crawling and indexing for a general purpose search engine requires huge resources. Web crawlers are effectively downloading copies of the entire internet over and over, turning them over to indexing app…

  5. DiTTES.iNFO BLOG Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    Amazon gibt Alexa Database frei (Alexa Websearch Platform)

    search and process billions of documents—even create their own search engines – using Alexa’s search and publication to…

  6. I love it. It’s a great move that will mobilise thousands of small developers in a way Google could have if they truly opened up their API years ago. This will not only give Alexa a bigger slice of the search pie I think it will grow the search sector through the unique search apps being developed.

  7. Amazon Opens Up Alexa Search API, Revolutionizes Search Overnight

    Well, I hate to say I was right. But I was right! Sort of. Amazon is turning its Alexa search engine into a web service. It’s called the Alexa Web Search Platform. John Battelle writes:
    Alexa, an Amazon-owned search company started by Br…

  8. That’s really good news for search tech developers! I would test their index or compare it with other ones. Let’s hope that Google, Yahoo! and MSN will follow up and open their Web indexes too. It’ll be the only way to meet a competition from Amazon.

  9. Yes, they are commoditizing search for others BUT they are also monetizing it for themselves. Win-win for Amazon.

  10. Amazon Does Good at The Idiot’s Guide to Web 2.0 Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    [...] And this news is tickling the tech communities belly like you would not believe. Eveyone and their mother is commenting on it. All the big hitters are weighing in. There it is atop memeorandum, Michael Arrington at Tech Crunch says “Amazon Gets It,” Richard MacManus, thinks this’ll make the Big Three, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft, cast their blood shot eyes Amazons way, Om Malik, goes Shakspear and sees this as Amazon’s attempt to inflict death to the Big Three by a thousand small cuts. Dan Farber, Mashable, John Ho Lee, Social Patterns, Conversation Rater, The Stalwart, and The Tech Beat all weigh in as well. And it’s not even the afternoon yet. [...]

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