French government may fund another useless Google competitor

Nov 5, 2012
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Irrespective of the current acrimony between Google and the EU, French government, the French press, etc, Google still dominates search in France and can now boast of having France’s top browser in Chrome [FR].   All of this, of course, unnerves the government to no end.  So, (perhaps) predictably, they’re now mulling over having another go at creating a successful “made in France or Europe” search engine.  This idea, looks to have fairly solid, bi-partisan support amongst France’s députées (think congressmen , which was captured nicely by StreetPress in this video [FR].  Of course, the success France had with Minitel was invoked as what they’d like to achieve with search.

Ironically, the government seems to forget that France and the EU already tried this and it didn’t work out too well. Project Quarero, launched in 2005 by France and the EU, was an effort to create a European competitor to Google.  Exalead, founded in 2000 and now owned by Dassault Systems, was considered to be a good example of the type of search engine the EU was looking to create, as a result, was incorporated in the broader initiative.  After launching to much fanfare in 2007 and receiving the AFDEL award in 2008 for software publisher with the strongest growth, Exalead wasn’t able to compete with the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! and, thus, was largely forgotten.  The general feeling is that Exalead’s failure was due more to lack of promotion of it as a serious alternative to the search engine leaders, rather than to inferior product development and/or technology.  However, it’s pretty difficult to see how creating a government-backed Google alternative will be any different this time around.  In fact, given that non-French companies now dominate search engines, devices, platforms, etc. to such a degree, it’s likely to be even more difficult this time.

Not sure about anyone else, but were kind of getting tired of the litany of initiatives coming out from the government that end up going nowhere.  Surely all this energy, time and, ultimately money, could be put to better use.