By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Amazon.com Inc. said yesterday that it has dropped Google Inc. as the provider of search engine results on its Web site in favor of one powered by Microsoft, a move that signals a small rebellion against Google but a large gain for Microsoft.
Last week, Amazon quietly removed the "powered by Google" wording near its search box when the company's contract with the search giant ended, according to Amazon. On Sunday, Amazon visitors were directed to its own search site, called A9.com, to scour the Web.
Although they are not labeled as such, A9's search results are now provided by Windows Live Search, Microsoft's new search engine, which is still in its testing phase.
"Our engineers have done some testing and evaluation, and overall we concluded this was an interesting option to discover information," said David Tennenhouse, chief executive of A9, a subsidiary of Amazon.com that provides search and mapping results.
Asked whether Microsoft's search engine is better than Google's, Tennenhouse said, "It will be up to users to try that out."
A Google spokesman declined to comment on the change. Microsoft and Amazon would not discuss the terms of the deal but indicated that there will be revenue from advertisements placed alongside search results.
Although the move is subtle, it speaks volumes when one of the Internet's biggest storefront site turns its back on the industry leader in search.
"Whenever the largest online retailer makes a decision, it's going to be a big deal," said Silicon Valley technology analyst Rob Enderle. "They're the bellwether for their segment. What they do, others will likely do or consider doing."
Enderle said the deal was also a significant victory for Microsoft, because even though the Redmond, Wash., firm is an enormous technology company, it ranks third behind Google and Yahoo for online searching.
"Whenever Microsoft wins one in this space, it's the little guy winning," Enderle said.
Microsoft recently announced plans to spend more than $2.4 billion to invest in the company's online efforts, where it has been slow to recognize the fast-paced growth of consumer-driven Web sites.
Microsoft said the win is part of a larger effort for the software giant to become more aggressive in providing search results on other companies' Web sites. Many sites note that their search capabilities are powered by Google or Yahoo. Few give that credit to Microsoft.
"It's very important for us to reach out to different partners in the search space," said Justin Osmer, senior product manager of Windows Live Search, adding that Microsoft cannot just offer search results on its own Web sites.
"It's going to be an area where we're going to continue to focus and continue to expand," he said.