Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Xena: Warrior Search Princess?

You’ve come a short way, baby–at least by the looks of the new television ad touting the recent redesign of Ask.com, the search engine that is too big to be in the other category and yet still not Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. And that’s a shame.

Xena: Warrior Search Princess?

But being No. 5–unfortunately, in this case–requires some showmanship, if that’s what you would call the bizarre commercial featuring a man who has typed in “chicks with swords” and sings repeatedly and, well, repetitively, that “I got what I was asking for.” Naturally, a bevy of scantily clad iron maidens swish their weaponry behind him in a Busby Berkeley-style cavalcade.

When I typed the same thing in, I thankfully got a lot less, although the link to a video of a “Hot Asian Female Assassin” looked promisingly awful.

All joking aside, it’s another strange chapter for the also-ran Ask, which has apparently lost its marketing mind after it killed off Jeeves the Butler a while back. This TV ad comes after the viral (and still continuing) campaign centering around the “Algorithm,” wherein billboards declared menacingly “The Algorithm was banned in China,” inexplicably “The Algorithm consistently finds Jesus,” annoyingly “The Algorithm is from New Jersey” and just plain offensively “The Unabomber hates the Algorithm.”

That’s too bad, as any new upgrade of a search engine, which Digital Daily’s John Paczkowski wrote about here, has to be a good thing. While I will leave the reviewing of the new interface of Ask (called Ask 3D) to folks like Walt, one of the things that struck me from most of the people onstage at the D5 conference last week was that everyone talked about the evolution of search and how it has to change. Hopefully, we all don’t have to wait until the mandarins of Google decide to do something about improving the search experience when it pleases them.

Yahoo1995

In any case, I think most feel that search is still in its Neanderthal stages and that some years hence we will all laugh at the pages we now find valuable and useful, somewhat like looking back now at clunky early versions of AOL or Yahoo (pictured here).

Speaking of Yahoo, instead of creating insane commercials, of course, another tack is redefining the subject. That’s what Tapan Bhat, vice president of Front Doors, Yahoo’s personalized home page, did when he spoke this week at a conference in Europe. “Search is no longer the dominant paradigm,” said Bhat. “The future of the Web is about personalization.”

We’ll see, but until then, we’ll apparently have to bring on the dancing girls (the Ask commercial below was uploaded to YouTube by TechCrunch):

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google