Barry Schwartz over at SELand has an interview with Ask CEO Jim Safka and Teoma co-founder Apostolos Gerasoulis (AG).
The big news is that in March Ask.com launched their "Edison" ranking algorithm along with an entirely new infrastructure that reportedly greatly improved index freshness. Last April at SES NY, AG first mentioned Ask's new ranking algorithm see my post from last April on Edison, but there has been nothing heard on it since. We don't know much about Edison, except that it incorporates updated versions of Teoma's HITS topical link analysis algorithm as well as a modernized version of DirectHit's click tracking.
From my personal experience I think Ask still has a long way to go before they are competitive in relevance. For example, a relatively generic query for "DC Motors" yields results to both http://www.maxonmotor.com/ and http://www.maxonmotorusa.com/, despite the fact that these sites are mirrors with almost identical content. Also, the "Smart Answers" box displays the Wikipedia "Electric Motors" page that is later duplicated in the organic results. Both of these cases of duplicate content illustrate a lack of attention to detail. Other queries I tried yielded similarly disappointing results compared with GYM's results.
Good luck guys, there's still a long hill to climb.