At one time, IAC’s CEO Barry Diller thought his Ask.com search engine could take on Google. But Diller effectively threw in the towel yesterday on an investors call.
Diller downplayed Ask.com’s role in the over IAC company but said he ultimately failed at thinking Ask.com can compete with Google. Diller said:
But one thing I want to make clear to investors is that Ask itself is not a large segment of the company. I had hoped it would become one, but I was wrong about that. I was wrong about the competitive landscape with Google. And a lot of our new features that Ask has been sporting has only helped the competition, as they’ve copied us at every turn and they look a lot like Ask.
Ask did relaunch itself this week with a questions and answers service powered by Ask.com’s users. This does make Ask.com somewhat unique from the other search engines core focus, but with all the competitors in the Q&A space, who knows if Ask.com can compete in this space. For example, just yesterday, Facebook brought a Q&A service to their 500 million user base. Plus we have well established and known competitors such as Aardvark (owned by Google), Amazon’s Askville, Answers.com, ChaCha, LinkedIn Answers, Mosio, Quora, Replyz, and Yahoo Answers.
An other interesting admission by Diller was that his ad campaigns really didn’t work. Diller said, “We’ve learned that spending a lot of money on marketing search products doesn’t get you very far.” As you may remember, Ask.com produced several, media campaigns over the years, trying to make a dent in market share.
To me, this is a huge shame. Back in 2004, I called Ask.com the Little Search Engine That Could and now we know, it couldn’t.