November 1, 2004 9:33 AM PST
Amazon's A9 toolbar now available for Firefox
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A9 said the toolbar, which is available for free download, will offer the same features to users of the Mozilla open-source software as it does for other browsers. Those features include the "bookmarks" function, which lets users save favorite Web sites and access them from any PC, and "diary," which lets users save notes to themselves.
The toolbar can be used with Microsoft's Windows, Apple Computer's Mac OS and the Linux operating system.
Executives at A9 said the company had received a large number of requests from consumers looking for a version of the software to run with Firefox. The open-source browser has spurred considerable interest among Web surfers, who have downloaded 7 million copies of the latest release of the browser since September, according to Mozilla's estimates.
A9 was launched in mid-September after a lengthy test period. Unlike its rivals, the search engine organizes query results into expandable columns that each represent a specific type of search result, such as "images," "reference" and "movies." The search engine is powered by technology from Google and Amazon's Alexa subsidiary, and it draws on reference information from GuruNet and the Internet Movie Database, among other sources. It also displays Google-sponsored ad listings.
While industry watchers continue to ponder how e-commerce specialist Amazon fits into the search engine landscape, the company is pushing into the market with new products such as the toolbar.
Amazon may have a leg up on the competition because of its shopping focus. Shopping has emerged as prime terrain among the search engine companies, because many consumers use search before making a purchase. Amazon's jump into the market highlights the perceived importance of search in driving e-commerce sales.
In related news, Google on Monday announced plans to release a version of its desktop search tool for Apple's Mac operating system. Google launched the desktop tool earlier this month, throwing itself in the mix with Microsoft and other companies that are building advanced search software for retrieving everything from Web results to documents stored on a computer's hard drive.
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