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Eurovision Search contest: a search engine for Europe

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Writing a decent search engine isn’t all that difficult. Turning it into a multi-billon dollar brand is something else entirely. One needs clever inventors, risk-taking entrepreneurs and clever inventors.

So we must take the news of a French and German Government-sponsored move to create Quaero, the European search engine, with a pinch of salt.

The idea behind Quaero was dropped in a London Financial Times article, revealing that Germany’s Bertelsmann, Thomson, France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom will jointly create software that will search audio, video, text and image content, and also include translation tools, accessible from mobiles and PCs and is able to be plugged into consumer electronics devices.

For a start the idea is too ambitious. Create a video search engine, fine. Create a translation system for all of Europe, very cool. Take web searching to mobiles, noble aim, but tough. To do all three in one go, not economically feasible.

Google didn’t set out to do all of those things, it just wanted to make a slightly cleverer search engine and garner some traffic. That was back when search engines weren’t that clever. But even today, be honest, how many times do you find the hit you are looking for buried on page 7 of the Google hits. Searching is all about the precision with which you need to search, for what reason, for what job. Everyone would like a search engine that tunes itself to their needs, and in companies like Autonomy - itself briefly seen as a giant internet stock - there was research that went down that path and some products that almost made it work.

Politicians should stick to one objective. If that objective is to produce better, more used products than equivalent US technology, they should employ someone from the technology business that understands how these things are done, not write the technology spec themselves.

Most Europeans will be famaliar with the Eurovision Song Contest, where every country in Europe produces a song, and then judges from each country vote for their favorites. It never produces any hits, and mostly shows just how bizarre each country’s taste is. Expect the same result from what is, effectively, a Eurovision Search Contest.

Copyright © 2006, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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