Now that CEO Udi Manber left, what will become of A9?
My understanding is that Amazon created A9 around Udi and his vision for search. If true, the loss of Udi likely will change A9 and its direction, especially since traffic growth is flat with little signs of traction.
Anyone have any thoughts what they might do? What they should do?
A9 gets its search results from Google, so they may have relatively little investment in web search. Where will they go? I could see a range of possibilities.
Rather than focus on web search, perhaps A9 could switch to shopping metasearch. Shopping metasearch would focus on where Amazon has the most expertise -- shopping -- while still partially defending Amazon against the threat of disintermediation by Google and other web search giants.
A9 could switch to focusing on AdWords and AdSense-like advertising, building on the success of Amazon Associates. A9 would compete with Google not on web search, where Google has a strong advantage, but on advertising, where Amazon has its massive catalog and experience selling products to leverage.
A9 could focus on web services, emphasizing selling Amazon's shopping search technology to other e-commerce companies, much like Google does for intranet search with Google Enterprise. I suspect this would be a modest business for Amazon, but it would fit with Amazon's recent push for web services.
A9 could jump forward to execute on massively distributed web search, an area few others are exploring that is one approach toward opening up the "invisible web". To do this, A9 would have to expand its "search columns" to accessing hundreds of thousands of databases, then tackle the challenging problem of intelligently determining which available databases are most likely to provide the best answer to a given query (since you can only query a small subset of the databases in real time). Tough nut to crack, but this space is wide open.
A9 could fade away from lack of momentum and interest, like Auctions, zShops, web-based calendaring (PlanetAll), metashopping search (Junglee), and other saddening past Amazon experiments. I fear this may be quite likely.
What do you think will happen? Do you have thoughts on other likely directions for A9?
Update: One year later, A9 has suffered an 80%+ drop in traffic. It appears "fade away" may turn out to be the correct prediction.