Ask Jeeves to boost search site with portal features

Ask Jeeves is looking to strengthen its search engine website with features, services and technologies found elsewhere in its...

Ask Jeeves is looking to strengthen its search engine website with features, services and technologies found elsewhere in its online network.

Ask Jeeves is taking an inventory to determine which of its online offerings makes sense to replicate in its flagship web search engine (, according to company executives.

The plan follows Ask Jeeves' purchase of Interactive Search Holdings, announced in March this year, which gave Ask Jeeves several web properties including web portals Excite, My Way and iWon.

"We own robust portal functionality and are actively exploring integration of those tools and features into the Ask Jeeves brand in ways that make sense," said Jim Lanzone, the company’s senior vice-president of search properties.

The process has already started. Ask Jeeves boosted its flagship search engine with a feature from My Way that lets users find show times at local cinemas, said Daniel Read, vice-president of product management.

"There will be a lot more examples of that," Read said. Online communications overall is an interesting area, and within it a likely possibility would be an Ask Jeeves-branded webmail service, Read said. iWon, My Way and Excite all offer webmail services.

Ask Jeeves remains committed to having a variety of distinct sites with their own identities and user experiences, Read said. This is different from the web portal approach of rivals Yahoo and Microsoft, which have a full suite of mass-market online services, including search, under a single web banner.

"We have a multibrand strategy now, but the way people consume internet services is always changing, so we are not discounting any move," Read said.

One thing the company firmly believes in is that stuffing its search engine indiscriminately with portal features would be counterproductive, Read said. "A key thing for a search engine is to keep it simple and not clutter it, because [clutter] turns off users," Read said.

Still, with its plan to selectively seed the Ask Jeeves search engine with complementary services and functionality drawn from its portals, the company seems to acknowledge that loyalty among users is generally very thin. A consensus among industry observers is that providers of web search services must complement them with other services that grab on to users more tightly.

Juan Carlos Perez writes for the IDG News Service

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