Ridiculed from coast to coast for its decision to focus on the “married women” demographic, Ask (IACI) now says that AP got it wrong, that it’s still going to continue to soldier on trying (and failing) to be all things to all people. Or at least that’s how we read the latest from Forbes:
a spokeperson for the Oakland-based search company confirmed that 8% of Ask’s workforce is being axed, totalling some 40 firing. However, he also said that Ask will continue to be a contender in the search category and is going to focus on its strengths to grow.
The Ask representative said that reports of the site becoming oriented towards older women are false and were fuelled by an erroneous Associated Press article that has since been changed. Ask acknowledged that married women do compose a lot of its core users and these matronly queries are often dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia type queries – as well as categories like health and entertainment. Still, even though the company plans on building on this user base it isn’t going to abandon other users in pursuit of it.
The spokesperson adds that Ask is going to try to differentiate itself (thank goodness), but will do so by focusing on the “answer seeking” category instead of just plain old search. Differentiation is good, but “answer seeking” isn’t. Searchers already seek answers–they just don’t bother to type full questions. Ask already tried the “answer seeking” thing back in the Ask Jeeves days, and it didn’t work then, either.