Rather than initially focusing on the development of its own search database, A9.com has taken the more common route of using an established directory – in this case, competitor Google's – to provide the bulk of its search results. Where A9.com stands apart from other search engines is in the layer of personalized features found in the sites unique interface, which displays search results in separate columns, with multiple viewing options.
In addition to the Google-provided listings, A9.com search results include listings from Amazon's Internet Movie Database, text from books available through Amazon, and GuruNet provided reference information, along with site statistics from Alexa. It is the tie-in with Amazon that will have many users finding what they're looking for faster and easier, but that has also raised a variety of privacy concerns.
Users may log into the A9.com search engine using their Amazon log-in, at which point the search engine records and saves all searches and search results, correlating this info with your Amazon purchase history, and through a downloadable browser toolbar, gives users enhanced bookmarking features including the ability to attach site notes to bookmarks. Just as shoppers at Amazon are used to being presented with alternatives, so does the A9.com site offer multiple surfing and purchasing suggestions.
According to A9.com, "A9.com remembers your information. You can keep your own notes about any web page and search them; it is a new way to store and organize your bookmarks; it even recommends new sites and favorite old sites specifically for you to visit. With the A9 Toolbar all your web browsing history will be stored, allowing you (and only you!) to retrieve it at any time and even search it; it will tell you if you have any new search results, or the last time you visited a page."
The unique interface which shows multiple columns (switched on and off through navigation tabs) will be difficult for "low res" surfers to view, but is easy to get used to for folks with larger sized screens. There are a bewildering variety of search options and features that are not so easy to get used to, however, leaving casual users to likely favor the simplicity of the Google interface, while heavy search users will enjoy a powerful new tool.