Just how many times can a well-known website try to reinvent itself before it realizes it has become hopelessly irrelevant?
Founded in 1996 as “Ask Jeeves”, the idea was that you would ask your “butler”, Jeeves, questions and he would return search results that were relevant to your query. The company pushed the character hard, even making into a balloon in the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade here in the United States, but in 2006 the character went into retirement. The reason for this was the company was trying to reconfigure itself in the wake of Google taking over everything there is to do with search traffic.
Since 2006 the company has tried remaking itself who knows how many times, and now it’s at it again. The new public beta is about remaking the company as a more social site, and focusing more on being a site for questions and answers.
While this is all well and good, and you can read more about it for yourself at the blog announcement, you have to wonder just how many more changes this site can go through. At 14-years-old, the site has changed its image numerous times, and after all of this it still only controls two percent of the search market. It is reported to have revenues of $227 million, and that’s nothing to sneeze at, but I’d more interested in seeing its profit reports.
While its search traffic may seem low, that two percent still represents over 184 million searches a month, and now it appears the company is just not going to concern itself with traditional searches any more. “The evolution of our search technology, the rapid growth of the social Web and the shift in consumer search behavior are propelling Ask to the forefront of what we believe will be a multi-billion dollar Q&A category,” says President Scott Garell. Well, seeing as the Q&A category has been around for several years now, that seems a bit far-fetched, but more power to them if they wish to give it a go.
What say you? Do you still use Ask?