ad Silicon Tails: Ask Jeeves scoring points from WSJ commentator

Friday, March 31, 2006

Ask Jeeves scoring points from WSJ commentator - Personal Technology

Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal praises recent moves and features, esp. the zoom feature. He also notes generally that, "Ask's search-results pages are richer and better organized than typical Google results, and they give greater priority to content over ads."

It is nice to see someone looking beyond the Google hype to look at the innovations that take place elsewhere. But Henry Blodget asks a critical question to Mr. Mossberg related to actual behavioral impact of his opinions:

“So now that you have concluded that Ask is sometimes better, how are your searching habits going to change? Are you going to try both engines every time you search? Are you going to switch over completely to Ask? Or are you going to say, "Well, yes, Ask tastes better, but I've always been a Google man, so I'm going to stick with that." The answer here is important, because Google is protected not only by its search service but inertia: most searchers probably don't care enough to switch unless/until the competing product is vastly superior."

In the end changed behavior is what matters, not opinion in and of itself. The question is, does opinion drive behavior or is inertia, habit, established infrastructure (e.g. distribution) and situational factors going to determine the future search behavior of Mr. Mossberg? I know what the social psychologist's answer to that question is!