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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  1. identicon
    Tyshaun, 3 Jan 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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