IBM has bought e-commerce search company iPhrase for an undisclosed sum.

iPhrase makes software to help retailers understand and route customer requests, dynamically generate customised Web pages, and improve their online search engines. Its client list includes Dell,, Nintendo and Staples.

iPhrase and IBM are longtime partners that have collaborated on several customer engagements that involved combining their software products. IBM plans to incorporate iPhrase's technology into its information management software. That portfolio includes an assortment of technologies for integrating and analysing data from a variety of structured and unstructured data sources.

All of iPhrase's 70 employees will be offered positions at IBM.

IBM has a habit of buying up its partners. This year alone, it has purchased DataPower, DWL, PureEdge and SRD. IBM also spent $1.1 billion buying data integration powerhouse Ascential.