Search engine 'Ask Jeeves' launched in 2000 with the slightly odd concept of using a butler to answer online questions. This was great until users realised, about 3 questions in, that Jeeves was totally useless and that information could be found a lot quicker and easier, and without sounding like a 5-year-old, by using Google.
In 2005 someone bought Jeeves for £1bn. Yes, one. Billion. Pounds. and the Jeeves branding was dropped for three years. No one used it. So they brought Jeeves back and still no one used it. So in one last ditch attempt to keep Jeeves alive they're launching a 'permanent interactive community section that will allow users to answer questions themselves'. Yes, it appears they are launching 'Yahoo! Answers'
Ask Jeeves spokeswoman Nadia Kelly said, "For the first time users themselves can get involved, to share their thoughts and come up with answers." Um, pretty sure it's not. Pretty sure it's called Yahoo!Answers.
The fatally flawed product aside, Ask Jeeves has done a great PR job on the launch and has asked celebrities to answer 10 tricky questions like, 'What is the meaning of life?', 'What is love', 'Is there anybody out there?', on uk.ask.com/unanswerables.
Fun exercise but think Jeeves needs to acknowledge the sophistication of web users and re-think its proposition - a community-based knowledge sharing site is a start.