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The Mobile And Ask On Phones

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Google dropped into bed with Samsung, as did Yahoo when they weren’t announcing deals with Opera and a slew of other firms at the start of the CES event in Las Vegas. Microsoft was busy unveiling its Home Server and decidedly not talking much about mobile, leaving me to wonder one thing: where is Ask.com?

I thought Ask might be chuckling at the Windows Home Server promotional site, where the “doctor for digital amnesia” seems to have picked up his wife’s lab coat before going to work. Nice attention to detail there, Microsoft; let’s hope the security team for Vista did better at that.

Seeing Yahoo touting its oneSearch technology made me think of Ask, which has been placing its Smart Answers atop a variety of search results for quite some time. I wanted to find out where Ask might be on the mobile platform with its Smart Answers, now that it seems an homage to that service may be obtained from its Sunnyvale competitors.

Gary Price serves as Ask’s director for online info resources, and talked about Ask Mobile. “It’s simple, clean, and effective,” he said of Ask’s service for wireless. That’s important, he said, for people who may have never used such a service on a mobile handset previously.

Too many features could prove confusing, especially for the larger part of an audience that is used to entering queries into a search box and navigating from there. On Ask Mobile, users won’t see a search box on the main screen.

Instead, an easy to navigate menu leads to options for directions, weather, and web search among others. Doing this leads to a click-saving approach; after all, not everyone has a Treo or Blackberry with a regular keyboard as art of the design.

Their web search does incorporate the Smart Answers technology, to a point. Right now on Ask Mobile it draws upon Wikipedia’s index.

Eventually, the recently launched local search product Ask City will be part of the mobile offering. That new service provides business, event, movie, and map & direction search on the desktop.

Clicking through an Ask Mobile web search results brings in a page rendered for the small screen. Gary said technology from Skweezer shrinks down pages so they can be viewed on those smaller screens.

One point of difference between Ask Mobile and other offerings comes on the mapping side. Aerial maps can be viewed on a handset without the need for a software download.

Looking forward, Gary thinks mobile information will continue to grow over the next few years. Streaming content should follow that trend as well.

Bonus content!: Did you know Ask.com can search wedding registries? They can pull results from about fifty of them, from retailers like Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, and others. Do a search on Ask for a person’s first name, last name, and the words ‘wedding registry’. That pulls up a Smart Answer to delve into wedding registries provided by Gifts.com.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

The Mobile And Ask On Phones
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