Dropping the 'Jeeves' branding after 10 years, the search engine retained the same 'ask a straightforward question' approach to Internet searching. With the acquisition of Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com and Reference.com that concept will take a huge leap forwards. Assuming, that is, there is to be some kind of back office integration to unleash this new power from within a single search interface.
Currently Ask is ranked the fourth biggest search engine in the United States with a 4.23 percent share of the market according to the most recent Hitwise statistics. This puts it just behind Microsoft on 5.89 percent but there remains a huge chasm before you reach Yahoo in second place on 19.95 percent and Google somewhere on the horizon with 68.29 percent.
InterActiveCorp, which owns Ask, has made no secret of the fact that it hopes to add 11 percent to the number of monthly unique visitors that Ask gets, which would take that total up to 145 million. Just how this will impact upon overall search share remains to be seen.
And don't forget that Microsoft has been buying into new search technology as well, with its acquisition of Powerset. It is thought that Microsoft is looking to make a push into natural language searching, making the semantic web a reality, and this what was behind the purchase.