We launched version 1.0 of our website, A9.com, tonight. I've been using the beta version of this site since starting work here, and have found it indispensable. Indispensable to the point that I'm frustrated when I can't access it outside of work. Now, it is available to everyone, and I hope that other people are pleased with what we've done. It has been an incredible experience working with these guys for the past few months in preparation for launch. The overall level of competence, intelligence, and sheer sane-ness during a huge product launch is leaps and bounds beyond what I've seen before.
The new A9.com website even managed to replace Google as my default homepage (something that I wouldn't have expected). But it's just that useful. For example, A9.com not only defaults to Google for the web searches, but also additionally queries the Amazon Search Inside The Book engine, Google image search, IMDB.com, and the GuruNet reference engine, all with one search query.
But what really has made A9.com so useful for me day-to-day is the search history functionality. Being able to switch between computers, on my desk and between home and at work, and have instant recall of the queries I've done in the past is something that I grew to depend on so much that I only hit Google when I'm intentionally trying to avoid having a query remembered.
Though I am on either Linux or Mac OS X 95% of the time, I am impressed by the functionality that the A9 Toolbar offers to Microsoft IE users. (The good news is that we're actively developing toolbars for other browsers, so I just need to be patient.) The toolbar does all the things that the Google toolbar does, such as search, highlighting, pop-up blocking, etc. But it also retrieves the Alexa site info for any page you are on, as well as lets you annotate any page with notes (the A9 Diary) that will follow you between browsers. You can even search your personal diary notes and search history. And you can manage your bookmarks (between browsers and machines) by saving them with the toolbar. And it probably does a handful of things I don't even know about.
Though it sounds like I'm just promoting the company that I work at, I'm being entirely sincere about it. And admittedly, there are some things I'd change -- for example, I'd have a checkbox next to the search box that says "privacy mode", for example. But the reality is that I actually like, and use, the new A9.com website, and I'm glad that I can now use it anywhere, not just at the office.
If you're willing to give it a shot, try setting your homepage to A9.com for a week. I suspect that you'll keep it there. And given the things we have going on right now that you haven't seen yet, I'm willing to bet you'll like what we do next as well.
(And even after writing this I realized that I forgot about the "Discover" column, which automatically recommends sites that you might be interested in. And the Automatic Lists on the toolbar, which make it easy to follow a long list of search results. And the kick-ass new preferences screen, though I personally liked the old colours... And on, and on.)
This part is blatant promotion, though -- we're hiring.