Ask Jeeves, what’s Grouper

If you are fourth place search engine, behind industry behemoths like Google, Yahoo and MSN the big question is how do you grow your traffic. (Comscore Media Metrix says in July Ask Jeeves‘ had 6.1% share of the search market.) Ask Jeeves faces that dilemma. One way would be to think different, and look for niche market opportunities before your bigger brethren wake up and capitalize on that. Snapping up Bloglines was a good move – it got them new users, more traffic and opened up a new search opportunity – RSS search.

So what’s next? My sources tell me that Ask Jeeves has struck up a deal with P2P social sharing company, Grouper. Apparently, a co-branded Grouper client will be made available by Ask Jeeves. (Here is what I wrote about Grouper back in the day!) This client will embed Ask Jeeves desktop search, and web search. Ask Jeeves will also be able to show text-ads in this client, making it a possible revenue generator. From what I understand, the client will also have the ability to do search local folders not on your desktop, but also on the folders that are shared by those in your network. This would be a nice way to leap-up in the desktop search business for Ask Jeeves, especially if News Corp decides to buy Blinkx and put its resources behind the tiny company. I am yet to hear back from both companies.

This fits in what John Battelle’s idea of search everywhere. Anyway, if this becomes more of a trend, then my suggestion that Google buy Mercora doesn’t seem that ludicrous.