Ask.com has reported that it is leaving the search engine wars and taking up Q&A. Just as well. They were losing the war. BAD!
So what does this really mean? I don’t see this decision really affecting any of the other search engines in terms of market share or how they approach search. Do you?
The real answer to the question “what does this really mean?” is: It depends on how Ask.com implements its next phase of operation. Does it mean that Ask.com will now focus its efforts on Answers.Ask.com, or is something else going to happen instead? Let’s look to the Ask.com blog for clues.
We know that receiving answers to questions is why Ask.com users come to the site, and we are now serving them in everything we do. ?
OK, so Ask.com knows its audience. That doesn’t surprise me. However, simply stating that they plan to serve their customers in everything they do doesn’t really answer the question. Wouldn’t we expect that?
Ah, but what about this?
Unfortunately, this absolute focus means that we need to stop investing in things outside of providing users with the best answers, including making the huge capital investment required to support algorithmic web search development. This investment in independent web search is not required by our strategy, nor is it required in the marketplace. We have access to multiple third party structured and unstructured data feeds that, when integrated, can provide a web search experience on par with what we are able to produce internally, at much lower costs.
The emphasis above is mine. What this sounds like to me is that Ask.com is planning to become an aggregator. Will they just use other websites to provide answers to questions that people ask? If so, that will be an interesting thing to see.
There are already plenty of aggregators on the Internet, but what about aggregators that use data feeds to answer questions? Would it work? Do you think that’s where Ask.com is headed? Would you use it if it were?