Monday, February 27, 2006

‘Ask’ loses Butler – gains “Swiss army knife of search” in bid to compete

IAC Chief Executive, Barry Diller, owner of “Ask Jeeves” unveiled the new Jeeveless “” at the search engine strategies conference in New York stressing that Ask is in this game for the long haul.

“In a media category, market shares do not remain at 30% for very long” he said and in a discussion where he made various humerous digs at rivals Google and MSN, he said the new Ask slogan might well be “Be evil” in opposition to the Google “Don’t be evil” mantra. has now replaced “Ask Jeeves” and Diller explained that, in what seemed like a largely personally influenced decision, “Ask just seemed like a good brand and the butler and what it stood for somewhat out of place”.

Ask will not be sinking $400 million in a campaign where he couldn’t even remember if it featured a bee or a fat butterfly – he said digging at the MSN media campaign last year which barely shifted market shares. Rather than vast marketing spend, Diller believes the search experience has to be “good” and that ‘people’ have to find tools that bring them back in a viral way – not that Ask can rely on the Google type of viral in inventing the category though and Ask will be spending some considerable money.

“We’re very serious about this, put up a lot of capital, have invested capital to remove the constraints people within Ask felt they faced, but we’ve said we don’t expect earnings for some time”.

The new Ask features an uncluttered butlerless screen with user-selectable tools on the right hand side of the screen. It’s certainly looks cleaner – comprises of an easily reachable online dictionary, web-hosted desktop search – something Google doesn’t offer and a slick mapping tool. With binoculars where you can preview sites – it’s certainly fits the description given it of a “swiss army knife of search”.

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