The once prolific Ask.com has announced that it will no longer be operating as a search engine.

Ask.com, formerly known as Ask Jeeves, was launched in 1996 and was immensely popular, handling upwards of 2 million search queries a day at it’s peak. However, the reign of Ask.com was short lived as Google began to grow.

As Google took hold of the search market, Ask.com’s market share plummeted, as did it’s technology. In 2005 Ask.com was bought by internet giants IAC, but five years on and despite their best efforts, they can’t compete with Google.

President of Ask.com, Doug Leeds commented in an interview, “It’s become this huge juggernaut of a company that we really thought we could compete against by innovating. We did a great job of holding our market share but it wasn’t enough to grow the way IAC had hoped we would grow when it bought us.”

Google is the number one search engine by some margin, controlling 65 percent of the US search market. According to Nielson, Ask.com ranks in sixth and controls less than 2 percent of the market. The small piece of the search market that Ask.com did own will be conceded to it’s competitors, mainly Google and Microsoft.

Ask.com will still maintain it’s search box on its site and deliver search results provided by one of its competitors, much like the Yahoo! – Microsoft deal that was done last year. (You can read more about that at on Mashable). Due to confidentially reasons, which competitor Ask.com will use is yet to be announced.