Ask Jeeves Buys Desktop Search Company

The search company says the acquisition of startup Tukaroo will help it develop an application for searching desktop files as well as the Web.

Ask Jeeves Inc., a Web search company competing against Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc., continued it expansion with the acquisition on Wednesday of a desktop search company.

Emeryville, Calif.-based Ask Jeeves announced that it has purchased the assets of Tukaroo Inc., a San Jose, Calif., startup that was developing software for searching the desktop and managing files.

Ask Jeeves didnt disclose terms of the purchase, which has closed, but a spokeswoman said Ask Jeeves plans to incorporate Tukaroos technology into its plans to eventually offer a desktop search application. She said it was too early to say when such an offering would be available.

"We expect that Tukaroos desktop search and information management capabilities will enable Ask Jeeves to deliver a seamless, end-to-end search experience across the desktop and the Internet," said Ask Jeeves CEO Steve Berkowitz, in a statement.

The desktop has become one of the next major targets of major Web search engines. Google in November launched a test version of the Google Deskbar, which adds shortcuts to its Web search to the Windows desktop, and reportedly is working on a broader application for searching files on users hard drives. In March, Terra Lycos HotBot search site unveiled a new browser-based toolbar that also searches hard-drive content.

The Tukaroo purchase follows Ask Jeeves completion in May of another acquisition—that of Interactive Search Holdings Inc.—that doubled its market share in Web search and added a set of Web portals and the MaxOnline advertising network to its portfolio. Interactive Search Holdings properties included sites Excite and iWon.

In a recent interview with eWEEK.com, Berkowitz said Ask Jeeves plans to develop search applications for the desktop with the goal of extending search beyond the unstructured data on the Web to other data often locked up in databases and in desktop files and e-mails.

"Search needs to be an end-to-end function," he said. "Its about information retrieval."

Tukaroo, a private company, had yet to launch a product, an Ask Jeeves spokeswoman said. Two of its developers will join Ask Jeeves.

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