Alexa – Amazon’s Hidden Jewel

I’ve been meaning to blog about Alexa for months.

As I have been tracking my clickstream with the AttentionTrust Firefox extension, I have come to realize that I use Alexa about as much as I use Google.

And as I thought about it, I realized that Alexa has become a critical tool for me as I try to understand  what’s really happening on the Internet.

Whenever someone tells me about a web service, one of the first things I do is run an Alexa search on it, find out its traffic, what kind of people use it, etc.

Now I realize that Alexa’s utility to me is way larger than its utility to my daughter who generally doesn’t think of these services as an investment.  But I have continued to be amazed by the value that a free service like Alexa was providing to me and many others.

Well I never got around to blogging about Alexa, and now the secret is out.

Because Amazon (which owns Alexa) did something today with Alexa that is potentially game changing.

Alexa is making its index (and the infrastructure behind its index) available to anyone who wants to build a web service on top of it.  The most obvious application is search and that is where all the heat is in the blog world today.

Arrington comes up with the quote of the day (as usual):

hopefully it will nudge some of the search players into realizing that
they can be much more powerful by turning themselves into platforms
rather than destinations

I go back to Mark Pincus‘ rant on Google and GoogleBase where he said:

my take is google has chosen between two paths. one which i thought
they were on was to be a platform to enable great things on the web.
google could have powered everything with its search engine, ad
infrastructure, massive crawling and computing power. it could have
been a democratizing force, enabling small services to flourish in
being found and in serving them a platform on which to innovate.

The leaders always try to grab and consolidate market power.  The laggards are then forced to open things up.  Amazon is doing that today with it’s hidden jewel Alexa and I for one am thrilled to see it.