Ask Jeeves, Lycos Expand Search Options

In its first international expansion in years, Ask Jeeves launches a Japanese search engine that will compete with Google and Yahoo. Meanwhile, Lycos is expanding its service to provide searches of people and online discussions.

While Google may be getting most of the search-engine attention with its stock debut, two smaller players are expanding their search options.

Ask Jeeves Inc. is intensifying the international search wars by joining search leaders Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. in the Japanese market, while Lycos Inc. in a seperate move is homing in on specialized search for people and online discussions.

Ask Jeeves, of Emeryville, Calif., on Tuesday launched a beta version of its Japanese Web search engine. The search site,, is being run through a joint venture of Ask Jeeves and Tokyo-based transcosmos Inc. called Ask Jeeves Japan Co. Ltd.

The expansion into Japan is only Ask Jeeves second venture outside the United States, and CEO Steve Berkowitz said in a statement that international expansions is part of the companys plans for growth. In February 2000, Ask Jeeves launched a search engine for the United Kingdom, a company spokeswoman said.

For the beta of the Japanese search engine, Ask Jeeves is drawing from an index of more than 150 million Japan-focused Web pages, the company announced. It plans to expand that index and include results from its larger Web index when fully launches in the first quarter of next year.

/zimages/6/28571.gifHow does Berkowitz plan to compete against bigger rivals? Click here to read an interview with Ask Jeeves chief executive.

Ask Jeeves is using its own search technology, Teoma, to deliver results. Google and Yahoo also operate search sites targeted at the Japanese market and based on their own technologies.

Meanwhile, Lycos this week expanded its search offerings with the launch of beta version of People Search and Discussion Search.

With People Search, Lycos has added a broader array of information sources to what had been basic white pages listings. Users can type in a persons name and location information to retrieve phone book listings, Web results and a series of information from other online databases.

Those databases include Eliyon Technologies Corp.s professional profiles of people based on information available on the Web, LLCs alumni directories and Intelius public records search.

Discussion Search provides a vertical search of discussion boards and groups on the Internet—both from major sites such as Yahoo Groups and MSN Groups as well as specialized sites.

"What we found from focus groups is that people are looking for niche sites where theres unique information, and Discussion Search is good for that," said Lauren Bigelow, a senior director of product management for Lycos.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Googles push into online groups.

Bigelow declined to provide details on the number of discussion groups and online forums from which Discussion Search draws results. Both services are based on a combination of Lycos in-house development as well as search results from third parties, she said.

Lycos does not run its own Web index, for example. Instead it retrieves Web search results from Inktomi (now part of Yahoo Inc.s search technology) and from LookSmart Ltd.s paid-inclusion engine, according to Lycos Web site.

To generate revenue from the new search services, Lycos has added sponsored links alongside the results and has revenue-sharing partnerships with third parties offering e-commerce services in People Search, Bigelow said.

Lycos, of Waltham, Mass., plans to integrate the search services as tabs in its general Web search query box later this year and to market them to its 37 million monthly user base. The vertical search offerings also are part of Lycos focus on "connecting people online," Bigelow said.

The new offerings come after Lycos parent company, Terra Networks SA, earlier this month disclosed that it is selling the U.S.-based operation to Korean portal company Daum Communications Corp.

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