Walter Mossberg, the "king-maker" technology editor of the Wall Street Journal known for his focus on usefulness and usability, gave a glowing review to Answers.com today. He wrote:
Answers.com is owned by GuruNet, ticker GRU. GRU was up over 15% after the review was published, and now has a market cap of over $55 million. But questions remain about GRU's business model, particularly its future as a front-end to Wikipedia, which is free and has its own search function. More discussion here.
Suppose you want information on the city of Seattle. In Google, if you type in "Seattle," you get a long list of Web links, starting with the city's official Web site. At the top are links to maps of Seattle, and to news about Seattle.
Yahoo and MSN are worse, putting real-estate ads on top of their Web results. Ask Jeeves gives you a map and some local links, followed by a zillion ads. But other than the Ask Jeeves map, none gives you direct information. You must click on further links to learn anything.
The same search in Answers.com is radically different. You see a well-formatted page that includes a definition from the American Heritage dictionary. That is followed by a longer, but still compact, article on Seattle from the Columbia Encyclopedia. And that is followed by sections on current weather, and the local time. Then, there is a very long article on Seattle, with detailed maps, from the public, open-source Wikipedia encyclopedia.
To avoid a lot of scrolling, Answers.com provides a box at the upper left that allows you to quickly jump to each portion of the results page -- Dictionary, Encyclopedia, etc. You can also click once to get a Google Web search on Seattle. It also offers links to relevant blogs on a topic, to image searches and other resources.
... Answers.com is also a start toward a new search paradigm where the object is to provide real instant information, not just links to pages where that information may, or may not, be found. I urge you to try it.
You can read Walter Mossberg's entire review of Answers.com here. Chart of GRU below.