Is Ask Giving Up Battle for Search or Staying the Course? Which is True?

Lot’s of talk related to search engine Ask lately. First there were rumors that Ask would be laying off some of its workforce and abandoning the Teoma technology they had worked so hard on the last few years. Then Ask responds and calls the rumors false. Those of us who are cheering Ask on in the battle for search market share breathed a sign of relief… but not for long. The next day a story breaks reporting that Ask has laid off 8% of their workforce (40 jobs) and that they were changing the strategy of the search engine to “focus to better answering search queries posed as questions.” This was followed by a report that Ask would become a search engine geared towards married women.

If that wasn’t enough drama, today we hear from Ask once again claiming that despite all the rumors and speculation, they remain committed to search. Are you confused? I know I am. So which is it? Is Ask throwing in the towel, giving up the race for search market share? Are they going to abandon the Teoma technology that currently powers their search? Or maybe they will be the next target of acquisition for Microsoft seeing that they can’t seem to succeed in buying Yahoo. Your guess is as good as mine.

Therefore I thought it would be cool to compile some of the recent articles and posts I have come across the last few days, let you read them and then come to your own conclusions… that is if you even care. ;)

Monday

  • Future of Ask.com? Layoffs, But Keeping Teoma – Last week it was rumored that there would soon be some big shake-ups over at IAC’s Ask.com, including layoffs and the possible abandonment of Teoma, the technology that powers Ask’s search engine. Today a source indicated that the rumor that Ask would be ditching Teoma was incorrect, however did not dispute or even comment on the other rumor involving layoffs. Ask has not commented on either of the rumors.
  • Ask.com Calls Teoma Rumors False – Barry Schwartz writes, “Friday I reported that IAC Ready To Drop Ask.com Search Technology & Partner With Google? based on an Silicon Valley Insider tip. Just an hour ago, I received an official statement from Ask.com saying the rumors are false.”

Tuesday

  • IAC Cuts 8% Of Ask.com & Kills Search Engine – IAC has cut 8% of Ask.com’s workforce, by letting go 40 people. Not only that, the Wall Street Journal says IAC is changing the strategy of the search engine to “focus to better answering search queries posed as questions.”
  • Goodbye Ask.com: A Brand Evangelist Hangs It Up – Lisa Barone says goodbye to Ask as she writes, “My heart was shattered, with very real tears streaming down my face. And though I’ve since dried them, as I write this I can feel them creeping back up. Ask was personal to me, and those who know me understand that.”
  • Ask.com To Become a Site Geared Towards Married Women?
    From The Associated press: “In a dramatic about-face, Ask.com is abandoning its effort to outshine Internet search leader Google Inc. and will instead focus on a narrower market consisting of married women looking for help managing their lives.” Sounds like a joke but look at the source.

Today

  • Despite Rumors & Speculation, Ask.com Remains Committed to Search -
    The reports of Ask.com’s death have been exaggerated. Earlier this week, reports began to circulate in the mainstream press that Ask.com would give up on its search technology to become a Q&A engine for married women. Search bloggers immediately began to run with it, and took no time in rushing to judgment to declare the death of Ask.com. However, according to Ask.com spokesperson Nicholas Graham, nothing could be further from the truth. The article also pointed out that the key to Ask.com’s new strategy is search, specifically its Teoma technology that currently powers its search algorithms. That technology is not going away, Graham said.

So what do you think? Do you feel that Ask as an individual search entity is toast and that they will simply become another Google clone making money of AdWords? Will they re-invent themselves and find a special niche to fill? Will they continue as is, working hard to improve on their 1% market share? Do you even care? I would love to hear some opinions.

David Wallace

David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been involved in developing successful search engine and social media marketing campaigns for large and small businesses. Follow +David Wallace on Google + as well as Twitter.

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