Quaero? Good question.

French mega-blogger Loic Le Meur is making a point. He sees 10 reasons why the French search engine will fail. If you’re not in the loop: Quaero is a very French search engine project, with some kind of a German appendix. It’s (jointly?) run (?) by nimble startups like France Télécom, Thomson, Siemens AG and Thales. The basic idea seems to be transfer about 250 Million Euros in governement funding into the koffers of companies who will not even notice this windfall whilst delivering after five years of major league researching a multimedia search engine, which at least will be able to deliver what BBN’s Podzinger can deliver right now (audio to text) and then some.

But let’s get back to Loic’s points:

1- Can’t spell it.
Stupid names are not a problem. (QED: Colloquially, a sap is a weak or gullible person. Also known as dupe; see confidence trick.) Not owning the domain, either (prevents you from trying to trademark the hard to spell project name).

2- Centralized.
There are no centralized projects on the web that succeed. I know what you mean. But, of course, some exceptions do apply. Most notably: Google, Yahoo, eBay …

3- Secret versus beta.
Somtimes, I think, it’s time for web based beta blockers. Because mostly it’s smoke screening. Look at Google. Services like Froogle are/deserve to be in endless beta. But the secret project (world domination by abducting top software engineers into the Googleplex, introducing them to a 2 month brainwash and then …) is still, well: secret. I guess.

4- No buzz, no adoption.
Wait, Loic. We’re talking 5 year plans here. Quaero doesn’t need any buzz right now (well, we’re buzzing here …) as there’s not even a need yet for a domain for the service we cannot spell as the real product is only supposed to be ready in about 5 years.

5- A galaxy of actors who compete to get the subventions and don’t get much noticed for their latest web innovations
Yes, now it’s getting scary. It’s a powerful roster of partners. But if you want to build the prototype of the car for the mid 21st century, you probably wouldn’t start with talks to Nestlé.

6- Not really international.
‘scuse me. How about Google, Yahoo and the likes? Setting up a sales office in Hamburg, Paris or Munich doesn’t make you an international company. And not being really international is obviuosly not a recipe for disaster.

7- A neverending story.
Quaero has been announced as a 5 years project when Google is only barely 8 years old, where will Google be in 5 years when Quaero is finally launched ?
See. It’s not neverending. The life expectancy is exactly five years.

8- Not enough euros.
Outsmarting beats outspending. (Correction: would beat.) In it’s humble beginnings, Google didn’t bath in billions. So in theory, Quaero should have a chance.

9- Subventions euros are not worth venture capital euros.
Uhm, the source of the money is not the problem (in Latin: non olet). The question is: where to put it. VCs and the government share one thing: they’re all about other people’s money. But any VC betting 250 Million EUR to seed a company trying to beat a superrich global market leader with an unproven concept would immediately be awarded with the Nick Leeson Medal in gold.

10- Google is a thousand startups
[…] How many european startups could the Government help launch if these 250 M€ were invested in them ?

And that’s the point. Instead of playing the hare and the hedgehog, they launched a hare-brained single shot.
Why not open source Quaero and engage all individuals who would like to challenge Google’s position ? If the aim is to have an alternative and successful search engine, that it probably the way to go. It’s certainly not by trying to create centralized “multi-heads missiles” in a decentralized World where building communities matter more than the Country they originated from.

Exactly. Or why not seed 250+ search start-ups whilst offering the current Quaero partner a purchase option. Because, it’s a bit like Loic’s ten points. Most of the arguments are somewhat offleading (sez me). But in the end, he delivers his shot.

Placeshifting vs. Mobile Video Services

What’s placeshifting? Services like Slingbox or Orb use your broadband internet connection at home to stream your favorite shows to your PDA, your handset or laptop. If you like the idea, it’s highly likely that you’re not working for a mobile network operator.

MocoNews ha a nice wrap up of a report by ABI. Of course, the handest only moble video offerings aren’t that versatile, compared to Orb’s multidevice approach. But rebroadcasting regular tv shows to a handset is a rather futile approach anyway. First thing: screen resolution and real estate. We’re moving to HDTV in the living room. But you’ll never carry mobile phone with a 60″ screen.

So esentially the fun starts with made for mobile content and services. Looking at the different, German production companies and carriers already produce some stuff, which partially is made for miobile only consumption, partially as some kind of augmented tv service – depending in the time of the day.

In the long run, augmented television services and some time critical content will be the only stuff which will be broadcasted in a traditional way. Everything else will be pushed to devices for local caching. Because storage prices (with virually unlimited production capacities behind) will fall always much faster than bandwith, which is restricted by its spectrum limitations.

Via unmediated

UGC – billions and billions of $ made

Finally, finally I get it. User Generated Content (UGC) is already a billion dollar industry. I mean: look at Google.

Philipp Lenssen of Google Blogoscoped is quoting Google CEO Eric Schmidt from Googles Pressday 2006: “We’re moving to the next state of the internet where it’s all about people and expression” – search is still the focus, he adds.

But why would search qualify as UGC? To quote Schmidt again: The Google “aha” moment for many was when you use their search and say, “wow, that’s amazing.” Eric says these small personal “aha” moments created Google’s viralness, and they’re different for different persons.

Search is personal. Well, maybe not the single word you type into a box and press return. But your search patterns are pretty unique. And with Google Co-op, search results and UGC get a bit closer together.

It might not be ready for prime time (The product is an open platform but it’s very difficult to understand and use right now, even for a geek like me, writes Steve Rubel in Micro Persuasion). But the gist is: you can label websites you like – and people can subscribe to your choices. Everythings going to be integrated into search (as search is just an interface to a collection of information).

Searching the engine already creates you a potentially personal collection of content. Tagging and qualifying those results creates another layer of meta-content – which now can be re-fed into the search engine.
The NY Times quotes Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president for search products. “A little bit of human involvement goes a long way,” Ms. Mayer said. Which is a cutesy way of saying that algorithms can get you just so far. In a certain way, the geekly kingdom is following the tracks of Yahoo! and its latest buyouts (Flickr, Webjay, del.icio.us …).

As an example: Palatable computer generated restaurant recommendations would be real rocket science. Why? Taste buds are fickle. That’s why the typical consumer recommendation site are quack, too. If you want to have a nice dinner, why would you trust the recommendation of a persons who’s social life (or, at least the part that you’re aware of) is about recommending products and services you’ll never need? Let’s see, how Co-op tackles this.
Google Notebook takes yet another step of blending user interactions (searching, choosing from results, dismissing most of them …) into content. The idea: take the bland results. And let the user pick the best hits and annotate them. “If someone has planned a great Hawaiian vacation with great research into snorkel boats, they should be able to share it,” Ms. Mayer said.

As Steve Rubel writes regarding Co-op: I would love to see them layer in Blogger so that there is some editorial around these results as well. We haven’t seen Notebook yet. But it does already sound a bit like Blogger light. Instead of Blog This, it’s put it in your Notebook.

Teure AdWords

Das sind natürlich US-Zahlen. Aber trotzdem lehrreich. Nicht wegen der Class Action Suit-Anwälte, die seit Jahren mit Mesothelioma-Kranken ein paar Handvoll Dollar verdienen. Und seit Jahren mit Mesothelioma den Ad Word-Spitzenplatz belegen. Platz Vier und Fünf find ich da schon interessanter. Ãœber derartige Zahlungen für einfache Leads rechnet sich nämlich Spam …

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Wer veröffentlicht eigentlich Ad Word-Zahlen für den deutschsprachigen Markt?

Via John Battelle’s Searchblog: Higest Paying AdWords

The User Interface Is Your Brand

Do not underestimate the power of design. After all, your customers and clients will face the UI of your gadget or service quite more often than you could afford to spend on marketing and branding.
As computing and digital devices move more and more into the consumer space, features and functionalities will increasingly take the back-seat as motivators for technology adoption: as the iPod abundantly shows, user experience (along with a strong brand, and clever marketing) is much more important for the success of a device then technical specifications. Web designers have grasped the importance of good user experience a long time ago; now it is time the big technology providers to understand where the industry is headed.

Via ACM Ubiquity