Over the last year or so, it's become more than apparent that search is big business. It's got its giants, like Google
One perfectly good suggestion could be "capitalize off of hot grassroots trends," of course. Recently, Fool contributor Tom Taulli talked about Ask Jeeves' foray into blogging, one hot pastime that's firing up the Internet right now, and an area rivals Google and Microsoft have already dipped into. Now, Ask Jeeves may be looking into how to capitalize off another trend that's been growing like wildfire on the Internet: Firefox.
According to CNET, Ask Jeeves has engaged in some talks with the folks at Mozilla. Two ideas that were bandied about in the article would involve both the upstarts: a Jeeves-flavored Firefox browser, or Firefox utilizing Jeeves' version of desktop search.
Discussion, however, does not equal destiny. So, while this means little for the time being, it's still interesting to wonder to what lengths Ask Jeeves might go to make its search property a little hotter. Firefox certainly wouldn't be a bad place to start.
After all, Firefox has made quite a splash over recent months as Internet users have downloaded the browser in droves. (Read some of the coverage here and here.) I've had a lot to say about the typical Internet user in this day and age, who's savvier than he or she was five or six years ago, feels threatened by Microsoft's security problems, and isn't afraid to use programs other than what was bundled on his or her machine.
Firefox still has an uphill battle, considering Microsoft's Internet Explorer has the lion's share of the browser market, at about 90% (some sources say a tad less than that, at this point), but its millions of downloads since its release are nothing to sneeze at. WebSideStory said in January that Firefox's market has nearly doubled within two months, already giving Firefox a 5% share among Internet users -- pretty amazing considering that for years, IE ruled and market share for other browsers was minuscule.
Of course, Mozilla and Firefox have been hooked up with other players according to the media rumor mill, including Jeeves archrival Google. The truth is, the only really heartening arrangement with Firefox for any search name would probably be an exclusive one, and that seems unlikely to happen.
Ask Jeeves wouldn't be a fool (small f) to pursue a relationship with hot Internet property Firefox. For the time being, though, such an idea is just an interesting story to pass the time -- and a reminder that Ask Jeeves is still a contender. Other than that, investors need only sit on the sidelines and wonder just how Firefoxy Ask Jeeves might get.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.