Ask.com is giving up on search to focus on its Q&A business, admitting that it can't catch up to leaders like Google and Microsoft's Bing. It's estimated that the site currently has somewhere between 2 and 4 percent share of the U.S. online search market. Ask.com says it will still offer a search option. However, like Yahoo, which outsourced its search technology to Microsoft, Ask.com will stop working on its own algorithm and instead hire an unnamed third-party.
By reverting to a Q&A approach, much like the original 'Ask Jeeves' service, the company believes it can differentiate enough from competitors and deliver better on its mission of answering questions that users ask in natural, everyday English. To do that the company already launched an "ask the community" program back in July in which answers are provided by a panel of individual users as well as through links to other websites.
The company plans to consolidate its engineering resources at its Bay Area headquarters, and in the process, around 130 people will lose their jobs while a few are being asked to relocate. It's an unfortunate but necessary move for developing a more focused, cohesive strategy. Ask.com may be small compared to Google but they are still the sixth-largest web property according to Compete and draws more than 70 million unique visitors a month.