Why is Alexa News News?

Folks are acting like there’s big news out from Amazon/Alexa about opening up Alexa’s search engine to third parties. While that’s great, it’s not clear to me why this is news. I posted about Alexa’s plans back in October, right down to prices. Not that I’m dismissing the idea, but what do we know now that we didn’t know then?


  1. I’m still reading the documentation, but a major difference is that this service appears to provide much deeper access to the index metadata and will allow third party services to run at the Alexa data center where it’s close to the data, i.e. high bandwidth, low latency.
    This could be a lot more interesting than simple access to formatted search results, since otherwise you’d have to make a bulk query, ship the results over the network, possibly retrieve the returned pages, and process them somewhere else, not very practical for a vertical search application that wanted to do additional processing on a filtered body of pages.
    Whether this is just interesting or actually useful will depend on both the quality of the index and what is actually accessible from their runtime environment. I’m a bit astonished to find instructions for shell access via SSH and program compilation in their Getting Started guide.