I have been a Google user fo a loong time, and am still a Google user. That being said, I have to admit that Ask.com does provide some unique features like the zoom and expand your search, which are extremely useful in a lot of situations. Also, for many of my searches, the relevance of the results are better than Google.
Smart answers are another thing that used to be unique to Ask. Other search engines have caught up to it, but Ask still does the best job answering my questions. It is so much easier to type a question and get an answer, than looking around the web for the same thing.
Some folks have mentioned that clustering was started by Clusty, well, that aint true, Teoma has had it from day 1, and the concept of communities and leaders among them is kinda unique to them. I dont know how many of you have used Teoma.com in the past, but the clusters and communities for my searches were fantastic.
Ask.com carries a little bit of baggage from the past (dot com boom era), but they have moved away from that and are now a meaningful player in the search engine market. Forgot what you though about this company in the past. Go ahead and give it a try and you will see that it is a good search engine. Of course, there are lots of areas where they need to improve, like content, but I am sure they will catch up soon...
Also, while you are at it, try out their world class image search product. It truly is one of the best I have seen. The Maps product that came out recently beat all other map products in the market. The quality of the ariel maps and some of the iteniery planning features just blew me away..
Btw, they just released a blog and feed search product that was extremely well received. Lots cool stuff, check it out..
I gotta give it to a company as small as this and coming out with so many cool stuff in such a short span of time! Look at it from a clean slate view and maybe you will feel the same..
More the number of players, better it is for the end user. More choice and competetion is almost always a good thing...