Germany bows out of Euro 'Google killer'

As EC splashes cash on a different search project...

As EC splashes cash on a different search project...

Quaero, the pan-European search effort intended to rival Google, has seen the German government withdraw its support, while Brussels has promised €8.5m to a rival local search project, Pharos.

The German government has cited differences over the technological direction of the project for its desertion, less than two years after the Quaero project kicked off, and has decided to follow its own search path, Hartmut Schauerte, a secretary of state attached to the German Economics Ministry said recently.

Quaero - intended by the French as a multimedia search engine focused around indexing photos and videos - will now become a solely French project, led by Thomson, with the support of Arvato, start-up Exalead, France Telecom, or LTU Technologies, as well as assistance from the INA (National Institute of the Audiovisual) and research institute Inria.

Berlin will now concentrate on its own search effort, named Theseus. Theseus will focus on semantic research: understanding the context of a search request.

A French businessman involved with the project told daily newspaper Libération: "Quaero has never been a Franco-German project except in the head of the politicians. We saw the Germans once for a meeting and that's all."

Since Germany's decision to exit Quaero in late December the EC has since awarded €8.5m to another search project called Pharos.

Pharos will be a platform for search of audiovisual resources across online spaces, led by Norwegian search software company Fast. It will be both privately and publicly financed and it has recently been awarded €8.5m by the European Commission.

Thirteen partners from nine countries - Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the UK - will be involved in the project, including France Telecom and various educational institutes.

Estelle Dumout writes for ZDNet France