Oakland (CA) - Ask.com, after facing a long struggle with other search engines, this week announced it will stop trying to directly compete in that market and instead create a niche search portal for married women.
Ask.com will lay off 40 employees, about eight percent of its workforce, as it re-positions itself. It will create a new site that will be specially focused on middle-aged, married women from the South and Midwest.
Recently, it tried to set itself apart by offering a more customizable user interface, and also by giving users the option to not have their search data stored in the site's database. That was an appealing offer after outlets like Google and Microsoft came under scrutiny for data leaks. Ask.com remained a distant fifth in the search engine market, though.
Ask.com started as AskJeeves.com, and has never been able to be a serious contender against Yahoo, Microsoft, and more recently Google. It started as a service where users would be able to ask a specific question like "How far away is the sun from the earth?"
The site will return to that mindset with the new move, allowing married women to search for recipes, child rearing, and hobbies.