Ask.com Shifts Focus, Lays Off 40

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The Associated Press reports that in a dramatic about-face, Ask.com is abandoning its effort to outshine Internet search leader Google, and will instead focus on a narrower market consisting of married women looking for help managing their lives.

The company will also lay off about eight percent of its workforce, or 40 employees, as part of the new shift. The article said that the Oakland-based company will return to its roots by concentrating on finding answers to basic questions about recipes, hobbies, children’s homework, entertainment and health.

This is a surprise that signals a surrender from the venerable portal—particularly only months after rolling out a rather nice cell phone service called Ask Mobile GPS (which, admittedly, was only available on a few Sprint handsets and nowhere else).