Thursday, May 18, 2006

Vive La France!

One of the ideas I've toyed with a fair bit over the last year or so is whether there's an argument, for purposes as various as competition law, and public liability to implement human rights protection, to treat Google as a quasi-public body. Google earns about 80% of the search revenues of the word right now, has a clear stranglehold on the market and provides what almost everyone would now concede is an essential public service. Yet Google operate , quite reasonably, as a public corporation, accountable to no one but their share holders.

The situation would of cousre change if Google had a reasonable competitor - but both Yahoo! and MSN seem to have failed in that department. Now however the French have come to the rescue!! Or rather the EU, with an alleged "Google-killer" named Quaero, which as everyone with a Latin O Level knows means "I ask". According to the Beeb:

"European politicians seem worried about the supremacy of the Americans in cyberspace. French President Jacques Chirac has unveiled five grand Europrojects backed with public money to help counter the prevailing American technology influence.

Among them is something called Quaero, backed with some 250m euros of public funds. In most accounts of it, Quaero has been billed as an EU attempt to build a publicly funded Google killer. "

The whole project appears to be still under wraps with no details as yet. But even if it provides pinpoint search accuracy and makes drinks at the same time, will the English really choose to use a French search engine? -)

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