I’ve got a meeting soon, but I need to get this out while it’s fresh on the mind.
Last year I sat in Seattle at a Google Dance, and watched the beginning of blended search. It wasn’t on Google. It was on the new Ask.com. I was stoked. The interface was smooth, easy to understand, and put everything in one place.
A few months ago, Ask announced that it was dropping out in the race for search dominance, and focusing on women. What everyone in the industry heard is “we give up.” People cried, some went into hiding (kidding), and most just shook their head. A search engine that was doing everything right, developing ideas that were changing search as a whole, just dropped out.
Then the whole Yahoo thing came up and I mentioned that I thought a combination of Yahoo/Ask/AOL would be a killer. Great ideas, great community, great search.
Now what is Ask doing? Acting like the teenager in a new relationship saying “But I didn’t mean it!” Ask is now saying they were misunderstood. They are not dropping out in the race for search dominance. In fact, they are buying up other companies to build out their holdings.
What does the internet community think? The general consensus is that this newest release is a “we messed up bad” bit. But they did more than that. As Micheal Gray says, they missed the role that brand evangelists play. Lisa Barone at Bruce Clay was ready to die for Ask if they asked her. Now she won’t have anything to do with them. And that’s just ONE relationship, albeit a BIG one.
There is a huge need for graveling and innovation for Ask to fix that “erroneous communication” back in March. A few months is a LONG time in our world. You have to think about what you’re saying before you say it. Hire some great developers Ask, and a better PR team. You’ve got some relationships to rebuild if you want back in good graces.