February 6, 2005 6:55 PM PST

Ask Jeeves to buy Bloglines?

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Bloggers are speculating that search site Ask Jeeves has acquired one of their own.

Ask Jeeves has bought Bloglines, a privately held start-up that aggregates personal Web sites, according to media blog Napsterization.org. Also, Ask Jeeves' Web site is pointing exclusively to Bloglines via several links for blogs.

An Ask Jeeves representative reached Sunday declined to comment on an acquisition, nor on a partnership between the two companies. However, publicly traded Ask Jeeves has scheduled an announcement for Monday.

The rumored acquisition would make sense, given the mounting interest in blog publishing and aggregation services among search engines. Google, for example, in 2003 acquired Pyra Labs, creator of Blogger. Yahoo late last year overhauled its personalized Web service to rely on the syndication format RSS (Really Simple Syndication), which allows subscribers to aggregate news headlines and blog entries. MSN recently introduced a publishing service for blogs, MSN Spaces.

The draw for all the search engines is potential new advertising revenue that could come from expanding paid links to RSS feeds and blogs. Search engines are also interested in bolstering search technologies for the expanding universe of blogs, and for Ask Jeeves, buying existing software could expedite the need.

Bloglines, based in Redwood City, Calif., went online in June 2003. It claims more than 200 million blog articles in a searchable database.

"Ask Jeeves...could build a system like this very quickly," Napsterization creator Mary Hodder wrote on the blog. "What they would have trouble doing is getting all the data, structured, organized and pulled, going back more than say, a month. That's because blog posts fall off the front pages...and go into archives."

According to a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 5 percent of Internet users in the United States used syndication technologies in 2004 to read news headlines and other content. Blog readership was up 58 percent, and more than 8 million Americans created blogs of their own.

Last week, Ask Jeeves reported fourth-quarter profits that doubled and beat analyst expectations. It recorded earnings of $17.5 million, or 25 cents per share on revenue of $86.1 million in the fourth quarter. That compared with $7.6 million, or 13 cents, on revenue of $31.8 million in the same period of 2004.

 

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