I agree in its time "Ask Jeeves" was a useful tool. I would often suggest to people who weren't that web savvy to ask a question there.
Admittedly the results weren't often that relevant.
Also since Mr. Jeeves "retired", Wikipedia has become the answer person for almost any query under the sun.
If Mr. Jeeves Jr. wanted to take over the task of "information servant", they would have to fill his head with a vast amount of relevant data, much like, well -- Wikipedia.
Sadly, no one talks much about ask.com as evinced by the lack of activity on this forum. They really need to do something unique to survive beside just looking like Google.
In fact being a Google Search Network partner won't help to increase their advertiser base. When I gave their sponsored listings a try, I found my ads were in effect being double-served -- once from Google Search and again as an Ask ad. Caused me to dump Ask since to this day my ads show via the Google Search Network on Ask -- with 0 conversions for this year, BTW.
There is enough dissatisfaction with Adwords among advertisers so the time is ripe for someone to give Google a run for their money. Why not Ask?