Why France's Google Clone Helps Google Users

from the auf-wiedersehen dept

France has led the charge for a Euro-centric search engine, called Quaero, as part of its ongoing effort to de-anglicize (or de-Americanize, depending on your point of view) the web and stop Google from threatening French culture. Quaero was often described as a European Google, even though it's not at all clear what it really is. Anyhow, the largely undefined effort has recieved a blow after Germany said it's pulling out of the project to focus on an "information and technology" service called Theseus, rather than just a search engine. However, the French say they'll plow ahead with Quaero -- which still isn't likely to make much of dent in Google's status as the leading search engine around the globe. But while projects like Quaero may not be particularly successful in their own right, they do serve a purpose to the wider internet.

For instance, it seems fairly questionable if Jimmy Wales and his merry bunch of wiki editors can topple Google. But their work can highlight shortcomings in Google's products -- shortcomings the company will have to address by improving those products, if it hopes to stay on top. Efforts by other groups to create a better search engine, or a better free email program, or whatever else Google makes, help ensure that the web is dynamic and ever-changing. This means Google will have to keep innovating to keep its users satisfied. That, in turn, sets the bar even higher, and thus the virtuous circle of a competitive market keeps rolling. People use Google's products not because it abuses its dominant position, or because of some shady self-promotion. People use them because they're good, and because they like them. It's this quality that's let Google escape all the tipping points that have supposedly prefaced its fall from glory, and it's quality that can only happen with continual improvement and innovation. So, France, even though Quaero will be a big waste of time and money for you, the wider internet (and Google users) say merci for your socialist approach to supporting the free market.


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  •  
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    Effeminem, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 4:04am

    I don't know which is worse: the fact that 1/3 of this post is a regurgitation of Economics 101, or the fact that 2/3 of the readers probably don't understand Econ 101. Sigh.

     

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    Daniel (profile), Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 4:24am

    Now that is a sweet article!

    That's the wonderful thing about free markets - we benefit from ANY form of competition - even competition doomed to fail.

     

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    The infamous Joe, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 4:46am

    Taking bets..

    How long to do you suppose it's gonna take before the turns into another France vs. America comment fest? :)

     

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    me, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 6:03am

    brilliant sarcasm there

    Making sure you know what you're saying helps when you try to be witty and sartastic... That one brilliantly backfired on you! Maybe you should stick to English - the only language worth knowing, right?

    Another brilliant French-bashing article here today. This web site is losing credibility fast.

     

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      Tyshaun, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 6:39am

      Re: brilliant sarcasm there

      Making sure you know what you're saying helps when you try to be witty and sartastic... That one brilliantly backfired on you! Maybe you should stick to English - the only language worth knowing, right? Another brilliant French-bashing article here today. This web site is losing credibility fast

      This quote made me think of something, why is this french search engine doomed to fail? Regionalization seems to be a major protection for a lot of goods and services and why is the net that different?

      Auto manufacture is a great example. Almost every single industrialized nation produces its own home brew cars that appear to thrive regionally, even though the US and Japan are by far the largest auto producers globallly. Why have the regional manufacturers not been overtaken? A lot of times its because their product is geared towards regional interests (terrain, fuel efficiency, intended use, etc). The other aspect of regional success is cotrolling imports that compete with the product, or encouraging the use of the regionalized good, which Im sure will come into play once the search engine is completed (Depending on how this limiting is done can either be a good thing or bad, only time will tell but history points to China like implementations, which are not very good for further innovation).

      Sure, Qaero(sp?) may not supercede google as the worlds most used search engine, but if it addresses the specific needs of the european community, I think it has an excellent chance of being adopted.

      I do agree with your larger point about competition spawning innovation, but it also spawns diversification, which is also a good thing. Having a great service is good, have several great services that emphasis different features is even better because it still encourages innovation and also protects the market from monopolies.

      Finally, as an American the internet seems to be ready made for us. Almost every website has an English translation, and I would guess that most of them are either geared towards American interests, or run by American affiliates. A large part of this is that most of the development and proliferation of the internet started in the US. However, I can see where other countries want to create their own presence on the web. We like to use words like open access and nautrality to describe the net, but I think that is more of a euphamism because human beings have always had a need/desire to have nationalist affiliation, and having a significant web presence will be part of that. Also, knowing the history of France as being very "protective" of french culture and language it's no surprise they are undertaking an effort like this.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 11:12am

        Re: Re: brilliant sarcasm there

        Unfortunately you've never heard of 'multinational corporations' or anything of the sorts.

        Your auto manufacturer example falls flat pretty nasty. The concept of 'local manufacturer' is dead or rapidly fading. Toyota, Honda, GM and Ford, in the auto world anyway, are global and set up local assembly plants and source local and foreign parts regardless of the nation. Saying 'local' is meaningless. For example, where do American Toyota Tundra's come from now? Texas! Banks, financials, pharma, everything is consolidating in precisely the same manner. By your logic, GM in America will be precisely the same as GM in Europe because of some narrow view that American companies only make American-centric products. Multinationals, including Google, tune their products for all their markets. GM models, if you ever care to notice, sold in Europe are often quite different than their American counterparts. In fact, GM seems to make money in most places other than America, strangely enough.

        Oh, and, not to mention, bet internet search isn't quite a monopoly. Yahoo, A9, they all have their followers.

        Anyway, the main problem is that this new thing was born of government and not of private industry. History is astoundingly against the commercial success of such ventures, as if there was truly a market for such a thing someone looking to make a buck would've already created it.

         

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          Tyshaun, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 2:18pm

          Re: Re: Re: brilliant sarcasm there

          You said:

          By your logic, GM in America will be precisely the same as GM in Europe because of some narrow view that American companies only make American-centric products.

          Did you even read what I wrote? Everything you just said is a complete misrepresentation. The example you gave of Toyata and GM being multinational is EXACTLY what I said in my article, the only difference was that I stated in spite of global "multinationals", regional car companies still exist and thrive in some areas. Here's what I said:

          Almost every single industrialized nation produces its own home brew cars that appear to thrive regionally, even though the US and Japan are by far the largest auto producers globallly. Why have the regional manufacturers not been overtaken? A lot of times its because their product is geared towards regional interests (terrain, fuel efficiency, intended use, etc).

          If anything, I am saying that there are going to be regional differences, although yes, I guess I should have expressely pointed that out for those of us who needed it. So yes, GM selling cars in Europe will be modified from those sold in the US, if nothing else because the steering wheel will be on the other side in most instances. Although the whole point of my article wasn't that but rather that in spite of the global presence of companies like GM, smaller regional manufacturers still exist.

          Reading is not only fundamental, so is comprehension of material read.

           

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    CHL instructor (profile), Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 6:29am

    French military victories

    Perhaps Quaero is France's response to the page that you get when you enter "French military victories" into Google and then hit the "I'm feeling lucky" button.
    --
    TX CHL Training

     

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    Rhino, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 8:42am

    The Web was not developed in America it was invented and developed by the CERN in Switzerland.

     

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      Matt, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 9:09am

      Re:

      The Web was not developed in America it was invented and developed by the CERN in Switzerland.

      Uh, the WORLD wide web.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 11:09am

        Clarification...

        1.

        The Web was not developed in America it was invented and developed by the CERN in Switzerland.

        Uh, the WORLD wide web.


        Uhh, yeah, I read that wiki too. You may want to look back even farther to work done at MIT and DARPA starting in the 1960s leading to a system called DARPANET (or ARPANET, I forget). Most serious histories site this as the beginnings of the true internet that the world wide web topology developed in the 1980s in Sweden (CERN) were based on.

        BTW, DARPA IS a fully funded arm of the US defense department, not an international organization in any sense of the word.

         

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        Tyshaun, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 11:11am

        Re: Re:

        1.

        The Web was not developed in America it was invented and developed by the CERN in Switzerland.

        Uh, the WORLD wide web.


        Yeah, I read that wikipedia article too. You may want to look back even farther to work done at MIT and DARPA starting in the 1960s leading to a system called DARPANET (or ARPANET, I forget). Most serious histories site this as the beginnings of the true internet that the WWW topology developed in the 1980s in Sweden (CERN) were based on.

        BTW, DARPA IS a fully funded arm of the US defense department, not an international organization in any sense of the word.

         

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          Chris Maresca, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 2:05pm

          CERN

          I spent some time at CERN, it's a bit like a James Bond villain's lair... I think they make it even more so on purpose.

          CERN was in part funded by the US Gov't, but it really is an international effort, no matter what you all want to spin.

          When I was there, they were installing Russian-made support structures for the new LHC and the computing infrastructure was being upgraded by HP...

          And, BTW, it's in both Switzerland AND France (the tunnels for the particle accelerator cross the border...), so maybe the WWW was invented in France, by a Brit, no less. :-)

          It's not (and never has been) in Sweden.

          Chris.

           

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    Paul, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 1:52am

    And so we should all suck Google's b.lls.??

    This article is right in a way if you consider that Google will remain the leader forever after.
    If France methods may seem a bit weird from our "free market" standpoint, France project (www.exalead.com) is yet another startup that aims at taking over Google like all the Silicon Valley super stealth and ambitious start ups that everybody (including Techrcrunch et al) is raving about.

     

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    whatever, Nov 23rd, 2008 @ 3:17pm

    Yes, it *is* "de-Americanize". Hard as it is for Americans to accept, they are simply not that well liked around the world.

     

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