The European Union’s competition watchdog has appoved the use of €99m (£76m) of French state aid for a consortium attempting to build an internet search engine to take on Google.
It’s French money being spent on a French project, so, good luck to them, no skin off my nose. However, I do smell at least a whiff of politicians being bewitched by technological dreams here. Google’s a great search engine, there’s no doubt about that. However, the actual company Google isn’t valuable because of the search engine at all. The value is in Adwords, those little things up at the top left.
Seriously, in financial value, it’s their near control of the online advertising industry that creates the value. If you launched a search engine that was 10 times better than Google, you’d still not topple them from that position.
I (cynic that I am) get the feeling that the politicians doing the funding have been a tad starry eyed. If you want to get some of those hundreds of billions of $ of value that Google currently demands, you’ve got to build a better advertising platform. The search engine is near irrelevant.
But then €99m of tax money to fund an advertising platform doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?