Airbus Of The Web Would Be Just As Bad As Airbus Of The Air

from the how-about-a-boeing-of-the-web dept

If you’ve been following the aviation industry, you know that European aerospace giant Airbus has been beset with problems lately. The state-supported company has seen its manufacturing problems exacerbated by the political interests behind it. So it’s bizarre that Christoph Mohn, head of Lycos Europe, believes that Europe must create an Airbus of the web, to compete with the American internet giants. His concern that Europe has yet to produce a global internet brand may be reasonable, but the idea that a state-backed company would be best to do battle against Google and Yahoo is misguided. Already, an existing plan to prop up the industry, with a project called Quaero, looks like a boondoggle intended to divert public funds to private companies. Furthermore, a state-funded internet company will likely discourage competition and damage the domestic industry. If there’s an underlying cause for the lack of a European internet success, then that should be addressed. But trying to replicate a failed model for building a business or an industry clearly looks like a mistake.

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Comments on “Airbus Of The Web Would Be Just As Bad As Airbus Of The Air”

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NSMike says:


Utterly useless. Do you know why American companies have the biggest web successes? Because American companies were the FIRST ONES TO MAKE THEM. That’s it. Why re-invent google? Why go after e-bay with a European version? These services already exist. If Europe wants to have a major web success, they need to stop focusing on what someone else has already done and make a new service that appeals to everyone. Who needs another Google when we’ve got a perfectly good one right here?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Useless

“Who needs another Google when we’ve got a perfectly good one right here?”

While it is very pleasant in the “Here and Now”, some people can actually see past it. Not everyone sees happy things. Take a look at the WW-III or WW-IV that is taking place around us.

Do you realize that comms infrastructure (including inter/transcontinental fiber lines) will be the FIRST thing to magically go away when the battles escelate to a full fledged war?

Anyone who wants to create a national [clone of american internet company] may very well want to do it because they dont want to lose everything when someone decides they dont like the US anymore and act out on that feeling.

OK, so maybe that is a rather apocalyptic (sp?) fear, and it might even be a delusional fear, but it is a perfectly justifiable reason. Anytime you become DEPENDANT on something, the very first thing you MUST do to ensure survival is to establish contingency on how to live without it. Anything else and you are merely gambling with your fate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Useless

All this talk about WW-III/WW-IV – common people. Stop listening to politically-driven BS and think outside of CNN for a change.

Europe needs to innovate. Sure, we can always use more competition in the industry – but the reason Google is Google is BECAUSE Google innovates. All the big American internet companies have done this.

Europe will never globally compete until it starts to think for itself and comes up with interesting, new and exciting concepts – even if those concepts fail it would at least start the momentum in the proper direction.

wolff000 says:

Re: Umm.. I think No Scott.

I can’t see that following the airbus model well create anything worth a damn, but why not have a uk version of google? If we follow the thought that since it already exists why bother no new companies would ever open aagain. Why should another shoe comapny open up since we already have some. Hell google shouldn’t exist since yahoo was already there along with a billion other search engines. Just cause something exists doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. google is great but they are very very very long way from perfect. as one poster pointed out if somone drops a bomb on silicon valley or any other strategic tech place all those services fade into nothing. back up is always a good thing.

Ron (profile) says:

Comparison to European Drug Companies

re: “At one time, the majority of drug and food companies were European. Was anyone in the US complaining about that?”. Yes, they were. Look at the Treaty of Versailles which included the German Bayer Company being forced to give up its trademarks for its name and an “Aspirin”. Retribution for both Germany’s part in WWI and for the success of the Bayer Company.

Mousky (user link) says:

Re: Comparison to European Drug Companies

That had more to do with Bayer’s involvment in testing experimental drugs on concetration camp prisoners and the fact that I. G. Farben, the parent company of Bayer, produced the Zyklon B gas used in concentration camps. It wasn’t America saying “hey there are too many european drug companies, we need to create our own”. Besides, in the end, Bayer ended up with US rights to the Bayer name and trademark Bayer cross.

Anonymous Coward says:

European Search engines

I think that is fine that they try and build their own search engines. It will also give small businesses a new opportunity to market their sites, and to help create competition for google before it monopolizes on everything. I like google, although recently I have been having difficult time doing search queries on various topics as the engine is more driven to rank the maturing websites out there. Oh, and if you don’t pay for adwords, you do not show up on search indices as well. That sucks. (no really it is true, sponsored links also greatly help your website ranking as it is considered an extremely valid link directing to your site). So all in all, a fresh new popular search engines seems perfectly fine, of course that is… don’t expect it to start earning lots of cash.

Anonymous of Course says:

Re: European Search engines

I rather like Euro Ferret.

I think the biggest problem the EU faces is getting

over an inferiority complex. Airbus suffers from it

driving some of their business decisions.

Instead of looking longingly at other’s successes

and trying to duplicate them, be innovative.

The EU encompasses an enormous resource in

talented, clever people. Let them do what they

do best, create, design, the successes will come.

What I’m trying to say is the success is almost a

by-product of innovation.

William C Bonner (profile) says:

US Domination

I’d be interested in knowing how much us domination of the internet is based on the fact that the US is a huge mostly homogeneous market. The fact that most european startups are going to do initial development in their national language, and only go multi language after proving the concept, possibly slows things down significantly, at least to have explosive growth.

Niche sites will continue to thrive in all languages, but the biggest marketplace, and hence the biggest place to make money, is using the lowest common language, which is now english.

leo efstathiou says:

on a serious note

i think europe should first reevaluate its stance on failure and risk. i have been working in the netherlands for the last 8 weeks, and i have been told by many in the banking industry that once someone’s company has failed once, their reputation is virtually toast for life.

in america, failure is an excuse to get up and try again. not true for any other place in the world. we engendered this mentality from the onset with the so called “american dream”. whether or not people believe in it (i do), it is difficult to ignore the cultural implications of a society to stresses risk taking and heroism in the face of failure. once europe can change this, the innovation will follow…

Lay Person says:

For the most part...

For the most part Europe likes socialist ways of doing things.

Sure this is fine for things like healthcare and social services but it’s not the best for free market competition.

Advent technologies is a good way to start but it’s not the only way. You don’t necessarily have to copy existing models. Google started well after other search engines had their say. Even in the midst of AOL, Yahoo, MSN, etc…

Google came about by offering a differnt algorithm, a new way of doing the same old thing…search.

So, it’s not to say that doing the same thing is really doing the same thing. Build a better mouse trap, the people will follow.

This ” it’s already been done” mentality is just what is keeping EU from moving anywhere. The U.S. is home to invention because we tend to not be confined to this old Socialist mentality. We are forced to be more independent in order to survive hence, I believe, this fosters more radical thinking.

chris (profile) says:

innovation without price is difficult

in conventional industries, services compete based on a number of things, one very popular option is price.

if someone makes something, you can make a similar product that is cheaper. this is why sandisk makes MP3 players even though apple has essentailly cornered the market.

conversely, you could make a luxury version that caters to a more affluent crowd.

the trouble with internet companies is that you can’t compete on price since most web based services are free. if you want to offer something competitive, you have to come up with a new way of doing it, like google.

skype used to be european before it got bought by ebay. i felt like a total rebel paying my phone bill in euros 🙂

i hope europe spends it’s research money wisely and comes up with something that is totally unique.

it should also be noted that a the bulk of open source software projects are run by europeans. clearly europe has talent.

Ted says:

What Free trade?

The US government might not own the companies. But the senate and other goverment agencies are an extention of US companies and have been used to bully other counties to only buy US goods. In Europe the government owns big companies while in the US the companies own the government.

By the way Airbus problem isn’t that it’s a European company but that it’s controlled by French.

Drew says:

Airbus is not a “failure”, just having problems; until the war economy so was US-based Boeing, which is hugely subsidized by tax breaks and government defense money. Left to sink or swim on its own, Boeing and many other US companies would see an end to their huge profits… this “corporate welfare” keeps many related industries alive.

American corporate web know how is merely a reflection of the venture capitalist system here. Alot of people lost alot of capital money to get the internet success stories we have here. Several of which were founded by recent immigrants. Those successful operations now hire from all over the world and are shifting jobs out of the US as fast as they can.

Jamie says:

Re: Re:

AirBus and Boeing are both “failures” if we are talking long term sustainable profits. What people are forgetting is that the goals behind the government subsidies of these industries (both in the US and in Europe) are not to create a profitable company. The goals are to keep the manufacturing ability and know how in the country for future possible wartime use.

I understand the need for that, what I don’t understand is the need for government subsidies for types of businesses that are not “wartime” necessary. A government sponsored google alternative is not likely to become a success, and it will never be a “wartime” necessity. If there comes a time when using Google in Europe is not possible, then another service will present itself.

Google is on top because it is the best, not because it has subsidies or tax breaks. As soon as it is no longer the best (and yes that day will come) it will no longer be on top. Its replacement could come from Europe, Asia, Africa, or the Americas. Wherever it comes from, it will be better than Google because it did the job better, not because of a government subsidy. The Internet has made it so that the border doesn’t matter as much as who does it better.

Immigrants come to the US to start businesses because it is easier to start them here. Sure there is more venture capital, but that isn’t the main reason why so many businesses are started here. The main reason is that the government regulations are a lot simpler and less controlling. So if Europe wants to have more cutting edge businesses, they need to loosen up controls and make it easier to start businesses. A lot of that venture capital actually comes from Europe and Asia. The venture capital will go wherever people are starting businesses. There is no reason why that couldn’t be Europe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lycos are full of shit and have made a business out of being a mediocre bunch of sore losers. They’ve never really been any good at anything. They’re a bunch of ignorant suits with horrible taste and no intelligence, and even when they were our biggest customer (in a previous position I held) I felt really, really bad about them pissing all over our products by wrapping them in several layers of tackiness.

Then, of course, it was their DDoS-episode, which we aren’t going to forget. You can safely ignore anything these clowns say.

Go fuck yourself, Lycos.

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