MapQuest and other Internet zombies

The dream of the Internet of the 1990s is still alive, if you look in the right corner.

According to research firm Comscore, more than 17 million Americans regularly use MapQuest, one of the first digital mapping websites to be overtaken by Google and Apple. Go.com, an internet portal of the .com era, was shut down 20 years ago, but its ghost lives in “Go”, which is part of the web address of some Disney sites.

Ask Jeeves, a web search engine that started before Google, still has fans and people typing “Ask Jeeves a question” into Google searches.

You may make fun of AOL, but according to SimilarWeb, it is still the 50th most popular website in the United States. Virtual World Second Life never ended in the early 2000’s and is now living a second life as a prototype brand.

Some one-time online stars have been stuck for longer than we expected, indicating that it is possible to live online long after stardom is over.

“These are almost cockroach brands,” said Ben Shoot, a brand and advertising columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. “They are so small and flexible that they cannot be killed.”

There can be no comparison with scurrying worms Think To be a compliment, however, is something to be admired about the pioneers who shaped the early Internet, lost their coolness and dominance, and finally made a place for themselves. They will never be as popular or powerful as they were a generation ago, but ridiculous Internet brands can still be a goal.

These brands have managed to survive through a combination of twin, nostalgia, the fact that they have developed a product that people love, the ability to make digital money and the extraordinary features of the Internet. ۔ If today’s Internet powers like Facebook and Pinterest lose their relevance, they could last for decades.

System1, which owns MapQuest and HowStuffWorks, among other websites, uses ad patches or other techniques to entice people to collect their digital properties, convert them into loyal customers and monetize their clicks or other sales. Has a earning strategy. This is not far from the web strategy of converting “iBalls” into revenue in the early 2000’s.

Michael Bland, chief executive officer and co-founder of System 1, said his company spent money on Internet advertising to improve MapQuest and to improve its mapping functionality. System 1 has added a feature since purchasing MapQuest from Verizon in 2019 that allows delivery couriers to make longer journeys with multiple stops.

Blend said that Gen X reminiscences or online marketing may persuade people to try MapQuest once or twice, but that the company wants to make the site so useful that it returns regularly. He also said that more than half of the people who use MapQuest are so young that they may never know it in their heyday.

Blend is proud to have MapQuest as long as it has it. “There are a lot of internet brands that have come and gone and you will never hear from them again,” he told me.

I have no great explanation for the flexibility of some of the Internet properties of the 1990s. People are searching for Ask Jeeves even though its owner, the internet group IAC / InterActiveCorp, dropped the English butler’s name in 2005 and stopped trying to compete with Google search more than a decade ago. A website called Ask.com is mostly a collection of entertainment and celebrity news.

A Disney spokesman, who owns the Go.com Internet portal, did not elaborate on why some of the company’s Internet sites still have Go’s fingerprints. (Onion made fun of Disney for that years ago.) In general, today’s websites are often built on top of old Internet remnants, such as modern mansions built on the foundations of a 19th-century house.

Schott mentioned something I can’t get out of my head. He said that when a chain of favorite restaurants or an industrial factory closes, the general public reaction is saddened by what people have lost. But Scott said that when Internet features like Yahoo and MySpace dwindle or die, it is often dismissed as a joke.

“When tech companies fail, it’s a weird thing that I don’t think happens with other industries,” he said. “I’m not sure what that is.”

Maybe this is starting to change. When Microsoft retired its 27-year-old Internet Explorer web browser this month, old memories flowed. As the Internet ages – and so do those of us who remember its early years – the more we can feel the emotional turmoil of the past.


  • China’s eyes on its citizens: An investigation by the New York Times found that the Chinese authorities’ oversight was much broader than previously thought. Police want face recognition cameras where people eat and shop and even in private places like residential buildings and hotels. Authorities are buying equipment to create large-scale IRS scans and DNA databases. As my colleagues report, the goal is to “maximize what the state can find out about a person’s identity, activities and social connections, which will ultimately help the government maintain its dictatorial rule.” Can give. “

    Watch the video investigation here.

  • Complaints about a bait and switch: Small business owners say Google has tied them to the company’s free customized e-mail and other workplace software and now requires payment in the process they received. One business owner told my colleague Nico Grant, “It made me feel unnecessarily small.”

  • Other car companies envy Tesla: Automakers like Ford want to sell more of their cars directly to online buyers, as does Tesla. One problem: many state laws require cars to be sold through dealerships, writes Paul Stanquist for the Times.

Say hello to Dogs in a rolling cart.


We want to hear from you. Tell us what you think of this newsletter and what you want us to discover. You can reach us. ontech@nytimes.com.

If you do not already receive this newsletter in your inbox, Please sign up here.. You can also read. Tech column on the past.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.