Reading my copy of the Daily Telegraph today, I came across news that French President Jacques Chirac has pledged funding a new European search engine to challenge Google, Yahoo and other Anglo-Saxon search threats.
I guess Chirac sort of forgot about French-based Voila, which I believe still uses its own Francophone technology and which also apparently is number two in France. How about Seekport, the European-based search company that runs several multi-language editions? Fireball's an old favorite, a German-based service that had its own technology, though I'm not sure what it's using now. FAST is the Norwegian-based company that gave birth to AllTheWeb, now owned by Yahoo, but which still has web search technology it provides to others like Miva.
Chirac backs eurocentric search engine is the Telegraph article with a few more details. Specifically, Chicac doesn't seem to want to fund an actual web search engine. Instead, he wants to give loans so a French-German partnership between Thomas and Deutsche Telekom can build a "multimedia search engine for the internet." A Bloomberg story says the loans would be about 2 billion euros.
In short, there's plenty of search savvy in Europe that seems to have been OK without governmental support. But if the loans go ahead, it will be interesting to see if we're about to have a trade war emerge in the search space and over government backing, similar to the arguments that are made about government support given to aircraft makers Airbus in Europe and Boeing in the US.
The article has a few more details on the plans for a French-backed library digitization project, as well, as does France pushes for European books online. For past coverage on that from us, see:
- France, Google & The Need for Digitization Project Cooperation
- German Publishers Plan Major Book Digitization Project
- European Libraries Back Alternative To Google Library Project
Want to comment or discuss? Visit our forum thread, French Loans To Back European Rival To US Search Players.Postscript: See also my later post, Hey President Chirac - French-Based Thomson Sold Off Search Technology You Now Want To Fund