Ask Jeeves banks on Spanish inquisition with first move in European expansion

LONDON - Ask Jeeves has unveiled the beta version of Ask Jeeves Espana, the first launch in its planned expansion into five new countries.

The site, es.ask.com, is being tested ahead of a planned summer launch at Askjeeves.es.

Ask Jeeves, which was acquired by IAC/Interactive in a $1.85bn (£974m) deal in March, said its research on internet usage in Spain revealed that it is still an emerging marketplace, and that search will be on par with email in terms of popularity.

Miguel Acosta, vice-president of European development for Ask Jeeves, said: "As the Spanish internet population grows, more and more people will turn to Ask Jeeves to access the best of what the web has to offer: from finding information on news, weather and entertainment to browsing the best shopping and travel sites."

The company already has sites in the US, the UK and Japan. Earlier this year it hired Levi's Rachel Johnson for the role of vice-president of marketing, ahead of its expansion into five new European markets, although other than Spain it has not said which at this stage.

Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Ask Jeeves, said: "International expansion is an important component to our corporate growth strategy. We believe the Ask Jeeves brand has a tremendous opportunity to succeed in Europe because it offers the only differentiated world-class search experience to consumers."

Ask Jeeves' acquisition by IAC will see all of IAC's websites, including Expedia, Hotels.com, Ticketmaster, CitySearch and dating service uDate.com, promote an Ask Jeeves search box, making the brand seen by an extra 44m unique users, on top of the 42m US users who visit the site each month.

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