Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Jeeves Puts on the Beefcake with a Raft of New Features - But is it Enough?

Going to the Ask Jeeves search site you see a new Jeeves from a number of perspectives, as noted in CNET News. Just as the graphic of the friendly butler has been updated to a more macho and youthful fellow (previewed in their Japan site earlier this month), the site has a wide range of powerful user-friendly search features to keep it on a par with major competitors, such as news, image lookup, shopping, weather, travel and personality lookup, but there are also some rather unique ones as well. Being able to get a graphic of a page before downloading is a nice touch, along with a MyJeeves feature set that encourages users to save searches and links in a portfolio, which maintains not just the original URL but all the content of the search listing and adds in a note-taking feature. This little personal touch can store up to 1,000 links before registration is required, kind of an odd threshold that certainly ensures loyalty from the fully addicted but doesn't leverage much out of the relationship before then - as opposed to Amazon's A9 search engine which leverages one's Amazon registration from the get-go. It's not enough to break Jeeves out of the pack, though it is a step towards building relationships with an audience around search content that may set the stage for additional loyalty capabilities. But with talk of Google tooling up to release its own browser, it's hard to imagine how a well-designed but stuggling search service is going to make a go of it for the long run without developing some innovative new revenue streams. For now, they're still in the hunt, but Mr. Jeeves may want to get his CV ready just in case...
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