Mark Furber, MD of a UK strategic online marketing company called NetCallidus, is warning anyone who might be listening that the publicly funded QUAERO European search engine research project is doomed to failure. Expensive failure at that: Furber says that the project, hyped as at the Euro equivalent of Google (don't we already have one of those, and it is called Google) will cost £75 million before vanishing into the ether. Something that Furber says is ridiculous as Internet technology will have significantly changed by 2013.

Some, of course, might accuse Furber of doing nothing more than a little strategic online marketing of his own company here with this press release. Certainly some of the claims made bear a little closer inspection. First there is the small matter of that money, European yes but not in the sense that everyone in Europe is contributing. It turns out that QUAERO was actually awarded £75 million by the French government, something the press release itself admits. Then there is the claim that "a publicly funded project like this has no chance of overtaking Google, even if that money was spent on development over one year, not five." The truth is, of course, that nobody could have predicted the rise to greatness in such a short period of time with Google itself. But it happened. Sure, the landscape is different today, but when it comes to Internet technologies anything is still possible, if not probable in this case. Furber insists that "the only way to create a viable European rival to Google is to use the money to fund research at one of its existing major rivals, such as Yahoo!."

However, the founders of the QUAERO project are equally insistent that it isn't a search engine, it isn't meant to be a Google killer at all. The 23 companies working together on QUAERO consider it to be a research co-operative that is investigating new search technologies that could be used by companies in the future. Which is a different kettle of fish as far as I am concerned, although a very expensive one at that.

Furber is having none of it though, concluding that "even if that is true, it doesn't matter. This project has no chance of producing anything useful for European businesses, and is a total waste of money."