Jeeves Retires as Ask.com Rebrands

Ask Jeeves said Monday it was relaunching as ask.com, complete with a new understated design, tools, Web-based desktop search, and a cleaner and less advertising-laden result page. Noticeably missing is Jeeves, the familiar butler that has been associated with the site for the past decade.

The company says the new the site is intended to put the focus on the search engine, rather than the branding. "As the web became more of a real-time utility for people, Jeeves' job dramatically changed," the company explained.

"Users came to Ask Jeeves for more sophisticated searches," which meant the orginal purpose of the site, searches based on asking questions, was somewhat dated.

In September of last year, InterActiveCorp chief Barry Diller indicated he thought the butler had outlived his usefulness, following IAC's purchase of the search engine in July. Fans of the icon and several employees pleaded with Diller to save Jeeves, but ultimately were unsuccessful.

IAC hopes that the revamped site will help it gain marketshare on leader Google. Ask.com is currently ranked fifth in the competitive search market.

"Today's launch is a pivotal moment in our history, ensuring a well-known and much-loved search engine continues at the forefront of the evolution of the Internet search market," said Jim Lanzone, Ask.com US general manager.

The new page features a toolbox with shortcuts to nearly two dozen different features, which can be customized to show any ten tools that the consumer uses most.

Direct answers to queries would be listed at the top of search results, including answers from encyclopedias such as Wikipedia, Houghton Mifflin and Columbia. Search results from a user's desktop could also be added through the company's desktop search product.

Ask.com said it would change around its result pages to limit advertisements in the first screenful. The company had already been placing actual results above advertisements through its Smart Answers feature, saying it is the only major search engine to do so.

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