Whatever happened to the American tendency to root for the underdog? Sure, in this case the underdog is backed by a movie mogul and used to be a cheesy site with a butler illustration on its homepage, but you get my point. In the world of search, Ask has been an also-ran for a looong time, and I’m personally tired of people dissing it.
So what’s the background here? Yes, Ask did recently kick-start a campaign that centers around the word “ALGORITHM”. The goal here is to emulate the “Intel Inside” anti-commoditization effect on computer chips, as well-documented on Ask’s official blog.
Sure, all of us Valley types are thrown off by the big-ass “The Unabomber hates the Algorithm” billboard on the 101. Sure, the full page NYTimes ad that discusses the history of search and the algorithms behind it came across as obtuse and pretentious. Yes, it does take more than good advertising (and Ask’s advertising isn’t good) to make a search engine tick.
But so what? At least those guys are fighting the fight instead of caving into the highly common Google fanboyism that pervades the Valley. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Google Universal Search is a really small baby step into SERP innovation and Ask3D’s UI would whomp Goog’s ass in a search engine death match.
So let’s all back up off how awful Ask is. In a consumer web filled with borderline ridiculous $12000 startups, atleast Ask makes for interesting (if geeky) conversation.