One of Microsoft’s few victories in the eyeball auctions was signing up Amazon’s A9 search service to use Windows Live Search. A9 is hardly one of the Web search biggies, but it was a victory. Now that victory is being called into question as Amazon Nearly Exits Search Business:
After failing to generate much interest in its A9.com search engine, Amazon confirmed Tuesday that it was removing search history and mapping features that differentiated it from competitors. In its place, a simplified front page that links to other search engines has appeared.
A9 now makes heavy use of Windows Live Search and Alexa, as well as links to some 400 other sources.
In a recent survey, A9 was ranked 83rd among all US search engines by Web analytics firm Hitwise. The site has never ranked much higher than that in its two-and-a-half year existence, according to past reports.
Well, it hasn’t quite gone yet.
Also in question is social networking site, Facebook, with whom Microsoft prominently signed a big advertising contract in August. Now that Facebook is apparently in play, it is rumored they have negotiated a possible buyout of their Microsoft contract before the ink was even dry. Holly M. Sanders at the NY Post (via Inside Microsoft):
Facebook, the hot social-networking site eyed by a number of media companies, agreed to pay a breakup fee to ad partner Microsoft if it should wind up in the arms of Yahoo! or another buyer, sources told The Post.
The agreement calls for Facebook to pay up – one source pegged the amount at less than $10 million – if it is sold to a Microsoft rival. Neither company would disclose the financial terms.
Of course, none of this is Microsoft’s fault, but they certainly are having a rocky road in trying to expand beyond their own Web venues.