Wednesday, April 26, 2006

French Misguidance

t is understandable if one has noted that the Europeans, especially the French, suffer from an inferiority complex, especially when they try to match themselves to the US. Excluding the nationalistic fervor that most European countries display, their inferiority complex seems all the more clear seeing how their economies fare poorly against the US. That is not to say that they are unable to become a real competitor to the US, but considering their political and industrial capacities - and wanton, for that matter - they cannot hope to ever match the economic might of the US. Case in point: France. In an effort to shore up French pride against US dominance, and attempting to leave a legacy to his nation, President Chirac unveiled a government-backed plan to create a rival search engine to Google and Yahoo! which would be native to Europe. This again is an example of the hawkish stance most Europeans maintain in attempting to preserve their nationalistic tendencies against any anglo-american influence. For example, the French dislike (to nice a term for what they really feel) the use of English terms which are the norm in the business and IT world.

So, in order to raise the global focus of France and its industries, Mr. Chirac's attempt at trying to create a rival to US search engines seems paultry at the very least. Here's to another governmental body entering the market. If Mr. Chirac wants to throw money away, that's his business, but if the French governmental spending has shown anything it shows its inability to promote free markets and does not support European private companies in the long term.

The French president, Jacques Chirac, yesterday unveiled what he hopes will be his great legacy to France's struggle against the global dominance of the US: a series of technological projects including a European search engine to rival Google.

Mr Chirac, who walked out of an EU summit last month when a fellow Frenchman committed the grave offence of speaking English, styles himself as the defender of France in the globalised world.

After the biggest street protests in decades forced him to stage a U-turn on employment reform last month, Mr Chirac is keener than ever to be remembered for doing something positive for French pride. Yesterday, he announced that he would provide 2bn EUR (1.4bn GBP) in funding for a series of innovative grands projets, including a Franco-German search engine to compete with Google and Yahoo!.

Named Quaero - Latin for "I search" - the search engine aims to be the first to efficiently sort through audio, images and video. It would search the growing array of podcasts and videoclips on the web and deliver the information to computers and mobile phones. Quaero has been a pet project of Mr Chirac's for some time. In his new year speech at the Elysee Palace, he spoke of the need to "take up the global challenge posed by Google and Yahoo!".



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