Report: Amazon developing e-commerce search service Inc. is reportedly working to develop a Web search technology that will help it compete against the likes of Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. when it comes to directing consumers to merchandise online.

The Internet retail giant has set up a subsidiary called A9 in Northern California to develop the search technology and is recruiting a host of software engineers from Silicon Valley, according to a report in the online edition of The Wall Street Journal Thursday.

In addition to creating and using the search service, Amazon also plans to market the A9 technology to other sites, The WSJ said.

A spokesperson for Amazon in the U.K could not confirm the report, however, and said that she “had no idea” if it was true or not. Only representatives in Amazon’s Seattle headquarters would be able to verify the story, she said.

Amazon’s purported foray into the e-commerce search service market comes on the heels of similar moves made by rivals such as Google, with its Froogle service, and Yahoo with its new product search, launched earlier this week.

The search services offer large advertising opportunities for the companies, in addition to helping direct consumers to their wares.

According to the report, Amazon has interviewed candidates for about 30 positions at A9 in recent weeks and several hires have been made with the expectation of starting work on the new technology in October.

No California-based jobs were listed on’s Web site Thursday.