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Thursday, October 6, 2005

Save Jeeves

Did you hear the news that “Ask Jeeves” is trying to rebrand as simply “Ask” or “” – getting rid of the friendly butler at the same time? (That same Jeeves, who went from the Himalayas to the salt flats of Utah to “strengthen and improve”, as the company once said, and who used to float as giant balloon over the streets.) Well, someone who claims to be a former employee has started a campaign to save Jeeves, and explains the motivations in his new blog dedicated to the matter.

In the words of the butler fan blogger:

“I want to save Jeeves, and I want YOUR help. You can help, by passing this link along to other Jeeves fans, or even non-Jeeves-fans who might find it informative. My hopes would be that the higher-ups in the Ask Jeeves world (and their parent company IAC) – and perhaps ultimately Barry Diller himself, will come to read this piece, and reconsider their decision. (...)

[E]ven if you aren’t a Jeeves fan, you should still care about the fate of the butler. After all, the whole beauty of the internet is freedom of choice – including choice of which search engine to use. And despite my own admitted fondness for the Goliath of the search industry (Google, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years) – I am also a firm believer that power corrupts. Even with their Do No Evil motto, the world is a better place, with challengers such as the also-mighty Yahoo, and the scrappy Ask Jeeves, waiting in the wings to keep things interesting. (...)

[T]he butler is the most human face, the most welcoming character to greet the curious internet searcher. It is sad that he be squelched, in the vain hopes that people will somehow take the site to be a “serious” contender in the search world.”

Is this a “New Coke” kind of marketing trick? The urban legend for New Coke goes like this: “Coca-Cola halted production of its flagship beverage in 1985 and introduced New Coke in its place as a marketing ploy to combat declining market share and rekindle interest in the original drink.” But, as the source explains “As much as we’d like to believe that The Coca-Cola Company is infallible, it proved in 1985 that it isn’t.” So is more smart this time? And does it really matter – when they’ve managed to increase interest in their always-fourth search engine (it usually gets listed behind Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search, in that order – and with Gigablast, A9 and others, even that fourth place is disputable)?

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch remarks: “Controversy over whether the butler should go will only help raise awareness of” He says we should look for:


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