Ask Jeeves to Retire "Butler" Icon

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Friday, February 24, 2006
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The week has been a sad time for the Internet. As I am sure most of you already know, Ask Jeeves will be saying goodbye to their corporate icon of 10 years. Jeeves, the butler mascot for Ask Jeeves, is retiring from his duties as ask's "answer man". Instead, the search engine is slimming down to its long used but little promoted "Ask.com" domain name.

The Internet's favorite butler has been serving up answers since its creation in November of 1995. From the start, Jeeves was different than the other search services of the day. The idea behind Jeeves was not to create yet another search engine or directory, but to offer a question/answering service. Mr. Jeeves was basically a virtual online concierge. At that time, AltaVista had just publicly launched and Yahoo!, although popular, was still a small operation hosted on Netscape servers. My, how times have changed!

Why is Ask Retiring Jeeves?

The move to retire Jeeves as the face for Ask.com is likely related to recent IAC / Ask Jeeves acquisition that took place last year. Was this a good move? Unfortunately, only time will tell. Shifting ones brand when it's already a focal point within the industry it occupies is often at times very dangerous. While Jeeves is just a static drawing of a butler, the Jeeves character has come to mean a lot for people over the years. There are people who take Jeeves very literally. They think of Jeeves as the guy behind their searches, a cartoon man giving them answers. Jeeves is what makes the site unique for these people, pure and simple.

Furthermore, I believe the timing is all wrong for this move as well. Ask has just expanded their search technology and has launched their own paid placement program. They are now in a position to compete on the same levels as MSN, Yahoo!, and Google, and then they decide to make this drastic change to their image. My philosophy is simple... why change what isn't broken.

Saying Goodbye

Jeeves' isn't leaving with our first saying "Goodbye". The people over at Ask created a retirement website where visitors can read Jeeves' official resignation letter, cast a vote for what he should do during his retirement, and even sign his retirement card. In addition, Ask put together this very funny going away video.

So what does a mid-aged search engine butler do after he retires? Does he golf? Does he fish? Does he take in a few ball games? Does he become one of those slow Sunday-driving elderly that get mad when you step on their lawn? Wwhatever comes of Jeeves, I wish him all the best.

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2 Comments:

  1. Wow! I can't believe Jeeves is retiring - but as they say, all good things must come to an end.

    I can recall Ask Jeeves being the first search engine I ever used.

    We were doing a project on the White House and my history teacher instructed us to visit whitehouse.com. So simultaneously 18 8th grade students typed in the address on our Netscape browser.... well imagine our surprise! Let's just say for those who don't know that the ladies on the site were NOT Hillary Clinton and Janet Reno! We then went to askjeeves.com to learn that the actual site is: whitehouse.gov!

    Ah the memories... Jeeves you will be missed. Enter the realm of other famous retired butlers, Benson, Lurch, and Jeffrey.
    By Anonymous Jessica on February 24, 2006
  2. I recommend Jeeves heads to Vegas to see if he can take home some serious cash. If not, I think the Florida Keys would suit him well.

    Goodbye Jeeves, you will be missed!
    By Anonymous Drew on February 24, 2006

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