Germany exits pan-European Google rival

Differences over 'technological direction' are blamed, while the EC has awarded cash to another 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 European Commission has since awarded €8.5m to another search project called Pharos. This will be a platform for the search of audiovisual resources across online spaces, led by Norwegian search software company Fast. Pharos will be financed both privately and publicly.

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.