Lycos chief calls for European search giant to rival US sites
LONDON - Christoph Mohn, chief executive of Lycos Europe, has confirmed his backing for a major European-based internet search engine capable of taking on the might of US-based Google.
Mohn said that Bertelsmann-owned Lycos planned to launch products into the North American market over the next 12 months, but added that European internet companies would still be operating at a significant disadvantage to rival US firms like Google unless a European super-company, like Airbus, was created.
The Franco-German state-funded search engine, Project Quaero, which was unveiled by French President Jacques Chirac last year with an estimated start-up fund of £2.2bn, currently has voice- and image-based search engine technology that is reportedly more accurate than word-based searches.
However, Mohn has warned that Quaero's technology would need significant development over the next 10 years for it to become a serious rival to Google.
He said: "So far, we have not built up a sizeable internet company in Europe. It's not good for the European Union.
"You will not beat Google in two years with the Quaero project."
Mohn added: "It's not just about 'let's beat Google', it's 'let's build up a competitive internet industry'.
"The next stage is for us to bring some of the products we're strong with in Europe outside Europe."
It is understood that Mohn could build up a European internet search engine empire through Bertelsmann and Lycos Europe, and key members of the Quaero consortium, which also includes Siemens, Deutsche Telekom, Thomson and France Telecom.
Mohn has said services currently available on Lycos Europe, including Lycos Chat and Lycos IQ, a question and answers tool could be replicated and enhanced for Quaero.
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