RealTime IT News

Ask Jeeves Inc. Eyes Globalized Service

Ask Jeeves Inc. Monday unveiled its new subsidiary Ask Jeeves International Inc., as well as its first country-specific launch.

The new unit is charged with developing regional versions of the Ask.com service through joint ventures and local partnerships.

Setting an example of its future global empire, Ask Jeeves (ASKJ) Monday partnered with with UK television companies Carlton Communications PLC and Granada Media Group to create Ask Jeeves UK, which will cater to the UK and Ireland market. Ask Jeeves International will control 50 percent of the venture. Its two UK partners contributed $62.5 million in cash and advertising, and will receive a combined 50 percent share of the UK site.

The new site is expected to be operational by early next year.

Ask.com claims that 650,000 UK visitors currently use the U.S.-based service, and it expects to transfer this traffic to the UK site. The new site will also be promoted through the Carlton and Granada Internet services.

"Ask Jeeves International will enable us to bring the ease and relevance of Ask.com to users outside of the United States," said Rob Wrubel, Ask Jeeves president and chief executive officer. "We will focus on forming joint ventures with strategic partners that provide access to mass audiences, powerful knowledge of a country's consumers and a keen understanding of the rapidly developing Internet marketplace."

Britain has the third highest rate of Internet use by most estimates, and is currently the hot launch pad for American companies testing the waters of global expansion.

Ask.com uses natural-language technology to provide a question answering approach to the search service, and will add a variety of localized information and local language variants to develop the new sites.