Try life without Google, France

Friend Eric Scherer recounts the drama when GoogleNews’ Josh Cohen met with a hostile crowd of French news publishers. I’ll get to the details of it in a moment. But to set the stage, let’s start here:

Imagine if Google and GoogleNews simply stopped linking to news publishers and avoided them entirely, since they complain so much. Where would they be then?

They would lose the direct traffic they get from GoogleNews and the ability to sell ads on those pages to those readers. They would lose the chance to meet and greet and develop a relationship with those new readers. They would lose traffic they get from searches. They would lose the opportunity to run Google’s ads and receive revenue from them. They would lose the branding that comes online from having Googlejuice. They would suffer and shrink away and Google would be blamed for killing the news.

But the French are blaming Google anyway, even though Google is now giving them all those benefits. It makes no sense, of course.

This anti-Google attitude comes from an apparent sense of entitlement that we see clearly in France but also elsewhere: Google owes us. We are losing money from advertising and Google is making money from advertising, ergo Google should play fair and give us some. But where is it written that publishers have a right to advertisers’ money? Publishers are losing advertising money because others saw the opportunities in the internet to serve them better and it’s advertisers’ right to put their money where they see the best return. All’s fair in markets.

Google could just take the money and sneer at publishers. But instead, it offers them a piece of its pie by both sending them traffic and offering them the chance to share in its ads. Publishers may wish to negotiate rates and shares with Google from a position of greater strength – that’s business – but Google doesn’t need to do business with papers at all.

In Scherer’s war report, the French publishers said that Google is their enemy and that Google’s market pricing is predatory (that is, undercutting what they think is their rightful rate). These quotes that Scherer recounts tell it all: “You are taking most of the online advertising growth, you are taking all of the advantages.” “Present deals are so far from what we need.” “The main issue is revenue sharing. Today, it is not fair.” “And now with the crisis, people are dying. We do not have enough money to live online.” “The growth of the Internet has been hijacked by search. We are no longer able to pay professional journalists to do their work.” “But you have a social responsibility for news organizations. You must take it seriously.”

They – like other publishers and journalists – think a market should be built around what they need and that there is a fair share that belongs to them even though they did not innovate and change so those who did should rescue them. But as Scott Karp has said, no one guarantees them a business model.

But Google comes to help. At the meeting, according to a slide Scherer shares, Google’s Cohen offered to have publishers help enhance their display in GoogleNews and even to edit preferred presences there, to give publishers content to enhance their sites, to help increase their revenue with a share of Google’s ads, and to increase their distribution. At a later meeting with wires, Scherer reports, Cohen gave them instruction in how to succeed with Google: “how to monetize archives, distribute local news, video and images, integrate content from YouTube partners, the use of Google quotes, Google site maps, meta-tags…” But most of Cohen’s audience in the trip didn’t want to learn how to work in new market realities – to ask and answer What Would Google Do? – but instead, they believed they were entitled to a piece of Google’s success without doing the work Google does.

Beware entitlement. Publishers who can’t make it now in the open market are trying to rely on entitlement. There are only two ways to grant such entitlement: taxes and public subsidy or legislation to hamper competitors. After the Google meetings, Scherer tells us, a French online executive raised the spectre of breaking up Google – the reflex of regulators – and a trade union representative “has recently come out in favor of banning Google from France.”

Be careful what you wish for.

: By the way, one country that has not bought What Would Google Do? is France. French publishers didn’t want a book favorable to Google. They wanted polemics against Google. By the way, American publishers told me that they have a French rule: If a book succeeds in France, it won’t anywhere else. So they told me to be just as happy that the French haven’t bought it. What is it about the French?

  • Great post Jeff! When I first read Eric’s recount of the event, I kept thinking I was misunderstanding the French news organization’s arguments. That I was missing the point. But as it turns out, it was straightforward: they were simply bitter that they were losing the game to Google.

    They complain that Google is better at advertising then themselves. That Google was more efficient, more productive, more valuable. Will they complain if another news organization has better writers than themselves? Is that not allowed? What if another news organization had a better website, and was getting more traffic? Is that not allowed as well? Should that news website have to share revenues with the ones who couldn’t take advantage of the same open opportunities? Ridiculous.

    Entitlement is a scary thing, and such a defensive reaction, despite the fact that Google was willing to work with them, just makes me even more pessimistic about the future of the industry.

    Shafqat (founder of NewsCred)

  • Eric Gauvin

    I love your “sour grapes” attitude towards France. You’re right. The French can’t pick good books.

    Perhaps they need to drink more googleguice instead of Beaujolais nouveau.

    I find it interesting that there is so much anti-google sentiment these days. We’ll see how your google-love book will do in the fair market…

    • Stefanie

      Please Do not mix french people and French Big Groups and government.
      I am french and I am very disapointed that these publishers don’t want to translate and publish this book. I can assure you that no matter what they think french people are huge customers of google and their attemp to “destroy” google France will fail…no way french can stop using google.

      And by the way…being french doesn’t always mean that we like wine ! :-)

      I hope an independant publisher will find the courage to translate your book Jeff….if not then I will read it in english and others will do so.
      This ;ight be good advertisement for you, censure is very good appear interesting to people.

      PS: Sorry if I made mistakes

  • I guess I live in some alternate universe. I don’t see the online ads since there is a nice Firefox plugin that filters them out.

    That makes me, I suppose, a free rider.

    On the other hand in all the years that I have been doing things online (back to the days before the web) I have never once bought anything by clicking on an ad thrown up at random on a site I’m visiting.

    I do make many purchases online, however. But for these I search for the specific product I’m interested in and then scroll through the list provided (while avoiding the paid links) until I find a suitable vendor.

    Is it possible that the whole premise of advertising is based upon a fiction? This being that people will be induced into buying things they weren’t looking for because they were presented with a random ad.

    I suppose those who track ad’s successes will claim that they do work, so perhaps I’m just a freak, but perhaps all they do is get people to buy something they were planning on getting anyway.

    No one seems to be studying any alternatives to the current system of free content and sponsored ads. Subscriptions haven’t worked, on the other hand Itunes has.

    If news gathering by conventional print operations is going away then there seems a need for some really creative way to get new income streams flowing. Tweaking ad placement doesn’t seem innovative enough to me.

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  • Anonymous Coward

    Not just the French. Across the channel, the Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger is seen as wise and forward-looking as any editor yet told PaidContent last month: “In the end, it is just wrong for Google to be taking the lion’s share of the revenue and not putting anything into the content. We will have to come up with a more equitable share of how that’s divided… Google is a great friend, they’ve helped us build all this traffic but, on the other hand, they would be in some trouble without all the content that we provide.”

    Weeks earlier, he also argued for public subsidy of local news:

  • @Anonymous Coward – I really don’t understand that meme. What does it mean they’ve taken the lion’s share of the revenue? They don’t even have advertising on Google News? They are simply sending traffic.

    Do the news publishers want Google’s ad revenue from Adwords or Adsense? That’s ridiculous. I really hope I’m being daft and missing the whole argument, because it really makes no sense to me.

  • The “complaint” that Google wouldn’t be useful unless people/newspapers/magazines/everyone else was putting content on the internet isn’t entirely baseless. As Google becomes even more dominant and content streams run out of cash, this will be a bigger issue.

    Still, until I read the comments to the post I hadn’t realized that was advertising-free. I guess that news articles do show up in web searches (which do have ads), but it does make their whines seem a whole lot whinier.

  • fwiw, in the local blog scene, people are fighting tooth and nail to get INCLUDED in GooNews:

  • Tex Lovera

    Eric said, “We’ll see how your google-love book will do in the fair market.”

    I am not necessarily a defender of Jeff’s, as I don’t agree that Google is always a benign entity. But to call up the fair market as the ultimate test, when France wouldn’t know a fair market if it fell into one, is pretty hilarious.

    Pretty much amplifies the last sentence in Jeff’s post?

  • Eric Gauvin

    Google’s business is advertising, directly or indirectly. shows ads on the search results page.

    Google news indirectly benefits from the “advertising-free” home page by getting a lot of traffic. It shows other people’s content as their own virtual newpaper front page. Meanwhile, the real newspapers’ front pages are not being viewed.

    Google makes money from the ads on the search results page and from ads on the pages they link to from the “advertising-free” home page. Of course they want traffic going to those news sites.

    Google likes to make lots of money from advertising, so if google wanted to they could put ads on the home page. They could also include any existing google ads within the target news story along with each of the auto-generated headline blurbs. There’s nothing stopping them. If the supply or quality of content decreased, maybe they would do that…

  • Eric Gauvin


    I wasn’t saying anything about France’s book market.

    I was saying that the timing for a google-love book may be bad. I’m seeing a lot of google hate cropping up these days.

    I also was saying that I thought it was “sour grapes” and rediculous for Jeff to imply that French book publishers pick failures therefore Jeff’s book has a better chance of success since the French didn’t pick it.

  • Just like George W Bush says, “The French have no work for entrepreneur”.

    • Chris

      Actually, the sentence was “The french have no WORD for entrepreneur” which certainly is a bushism since the word “entrepreneur” is originally a french word.

  • Jeff,

    Your analysis is correct on one level — publishers are fighting against reality when they could be embracing it and using it to their advantage — but there is more at work here.

    When you ask, “What is it about the French?” you’re asking the right question. The answer is that there are two other strong, and uniquely French, forces underlying and strengthening publisher sentiment there.

    First, there is the desire to protect French culture from outside influence. The newspapers are seen (and see themselves) as bastions of French culture and society. Google is a foreign influence. No matter how the economics work, there is going to be a reflexive antipathy toward a completely foreign entity such as Google.

    (This does not mean that French people do not like Google. Plenty of French people like Google and like other things that are American. But the institutions of society will tend to oppose creeping Americanization, which Google represents in spades).

    The other important force at work is that the French expect and welcome a much greater participation by government in ensuring that the mechanisms of society run smoothly. So by complaining loudly the French publishers can have some expectation that government may indeed take action to support their position. They can feel quite justified in arguing that it is in the interest of the French authorities to protect important institutions of society and to guard against Americanization of cultural life.

    This expectation is in sharp contrast to America where we have tended to believe that the role of the government is to get out of the way. In France there is a general belief that the role of the government is to intervene when it is useful.

    (Perhaps given the current economic crisis we are coming more toward this point of view in America too. But we are not likely to ever appreciate how much the French look to the state to protect French values.)

    For these reasons it is totally understandable that the publishers are making lots of noise about Google. It just may get something done about it. Whether the result would really be in their best interest is another question.

    Kind regards,
    Evan Rudowski

  • Jeff, I lived in Paris for three years and the best way I’ve ever heard the French described was that the French will say:

    “Well, it works in practice, but will it work in theory?”

    Essentially, the French are idealists and want to see something work before they try it. This is not a great way of going about business (and one of the reasons I left).

  • I remember a time Microsoft was not embrassing Internet and was really defensive.

    Are u sure it’s about the french ? Defensive strategies are not entirely french…

    True, now Google rules and Microsoft is a follower…

    By the way, Google enjoys a 91% market share in France (versus 63% in the US)

  • Andy Freeman

    > [Google] shows other people’s content as their own virtual newpaper front page. Meanwhile, the real newspapers’ front pages are not being viewed.

    Those other people are free to opt out of Google showing their content.

    Their problem is that they haven’t figured out how to deal with the fact that their content is a commodity with too many suppliers. This fact was disguised by a lack of inexpensive distribution methods, but the internet changed that.

  • Eric Gauvin

    @ Andy Freeman

    I agree with you, but under the circumstances, opting out of google is not a realistic option. I’m beginning to see that as a growing problem with the internet.

    BTW, unrelated French trivia… before the world wide web the French had the minitel which was basically run by the post office (!) You can find out more about it here…

  • Please, don’t confuse the French and the French newspaper, very very different things ;)

    ‘Le Monde’, France’s leading newspaper sells at 300k daily, that’s 0.5% of the total population, ‘Liberation’, another leading French newspaper sells 100k daily, french newspaper are dying because they’re plain stupid, and instead of blaming Google and the internet, they should blame their inability to change and their lack of vision about the internet.

    These last days, the government is blaming the internet for being a bunch of violent pedophiles, the press is going with the government, but please, don’t get confused by all this, French press owners are the french president’s best friends (literaly), our democraty is drowning the russian way, help us, don’t blame us.

  • @ Eric Gauvin,

    I was probably one of the few Americans who had a Minitel terminal on my desk in New York in the late 1980s. It was a fantastic device. The French were far ahead of most of the rest of the world in introducing online services into daily life via the Minitel. The French newspapers, from what I recall, made active use of the Minitel. Of course they could count on prominent placement on the Minitel services menu. They can’t count on getting the same treatment today from Google although as Jeff points out there is much they can do to take advantage of the opportunities Google offers.

    Kind regards,
    Evan Rudowski

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  • Beau

    This isn’t just French. It’s typical socialism. Your success must be taxed to subsidize my failures. From each according to his bankbook, to each according to his neediness.

    Perhaps the French would be happier to ostracize Google and develop their own search engines. They can call it Froggle or EUggle

  • Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Just like George W Bush says, “The French have no work for entrepreneur”.

    Freudian slip of the day!!

  • nerdbert

    Google’s primary monetary business isn’t news it’s ads.

    A newspaper’s primary monetary business isn’t news, it’s ads.

    So why does Google win? They organize more than just the news and give folks the ability to find what they want for a broader range of topics, and even for a broader set of opinions, and they do it faster and cheaper.

    In other words, The Internet Isn’t A Newspaper and trying to run a website like you run a newspaper is a bad idea — other folks will eat your lunch being able to do what newspapers try to do much cheaper. And since information on the Internet is cheaper, faster, and easier than picking up dead tree parts, newspapers are doomed to sliding down to a niche business without reforming their businesses.

    I’m in the same boat as robertdfineman above. When I want to buy something on the internet I use Google or another search engine to find examples and reviews — I’ve never responded to or clicked on an Internet ad. I’d never consider a newspaper review since they are more beholden to big advertisers directly than Google.

  • Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Seriously, if the French newspapers are this mad at Google (who basically makes them relevant to the non-French world), they must be positively irate at Craigslist…

  • celebrim

    “The “complaint” that Google wouldn’t be useful unless people/newspapers/magazines/everyone else was putting content on the internet isn’t entirely baseless. ”

    But the reverse is true as well. In a crowded web market, without Google (or a similar meta-content provider) the content you put out on the web is ‘useless’ as well. No one is going to view you website no matter how good your content is if they can’t first find your websight.

    I’m old enough to remember the www before it had search engines (before 1992), when it consisted of widely disconnected web pages and the main way to find anything was word or mouth, either directly by someone emailing you, or by going to a centralized but often out of date list of all known webservers, or indirectly by taking random walks through the pages that linked to each other. That worked somewhat back when the www was a small community, but it would never work now.

    If the search engines took the content providers out of their indexes, many of them would essentially immediately disappear. The rest would find their traffic going elsewhere.

    Something has to be on the web before a search engine is useful. But once anything is on the web, then you need a search engine. Only a very small number of sites can successfully operate as web portals, bypassing the search engine by being a users preferred daily content filter.

  • memomachine


    Simplest thing I can think of is for content providers unhappy with Google to simply get together and buy an existing search engine and then block Google from their content while providing content to their own search engine.

    Google’s Achilles Heel is that it does not provide valuable content on it’s own and must rely on others. If that content is available -only- on a different search engine and Google does not have ready access to content providers that can occupy the same space then Google dies and the content providers make out like bandits.

    Pretty iffy IMO as the business and technology models for content providers and search engines differ widely. But it can be done.

  • Thomass

    celebrim Says:

    “If the search engines took the content providers out of their indexes, many of them would essentially immediately disappear. The rest would find their traffic going elsewhere.”

    To a certain mindset that would be an opportunity (re: the entitled / socialist one being critiqued). Ie, a more captive [local / or French] market would be good to them. Advertise your website off the web while web users have trouble finding competition on line….. A dream come true for a news content provider… a much more contained market for your product…

    A google ban might actually help them for awhile… until people learn to get around it (via whatever means they dream up)…

  • plutosdad

    “The growth of the Internet has been hijacked by search”

    This the only real insight that they have, yet it completely goes over their head.

    The internet has empowered people to search for their news. Essentailly,the internet now allows people to access news randomly, like RAM, instead of being fed our news bit by bit, like ROM. They can compare and contrast news sources, find blogs by experts in certain fields that do more in-depth fact checking or analysis. Basically, can find anything they need in order to get a full picture of current events.

    Instead of realizing this, and changing their models to deliver content to people the way they want it, basically they are saying “our French consumers are wrong, and they are trying to find information the wrong way, and it is all Google’s fault for letting them”

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  • bobby b

    “On the other hand in all the years that I have been doing things online (back to the days before the web) I have never once bought anything by clicking on an ad thrown up at random on a site I’m visiting.”
    – – – –

    Obviously, someone does this. I suspect it’s those same people who respond to spam e-mail messeges.

    We must find these people, and then we must kill them.

  • clazy

    Chouette’s observation that Google holds 91% of the French market but only 63% of the US market suggests very strongly that the problem with the French is an inability to innovate.

  • SDN

    When I was in Europe in 1994, I heard the French summed up this way:

    “The French will tell you that after God created the angels, He created the French…. to perfect the design.”

  • Mike

    Life without Google? No sweat. Google’s reputation is inflated. All the major search engines deliver excellent results, and most if not all of Google’s hit-and-miss offerings in other areas are easily duplicated.

  • Tollhouse

    I think the post about the newspapers being oversuppliers is spot on.

    They all decided to go with the various wire services once upon a time to save on costs. And they did save cash by not needing to have a reporter everywhere. But now, with the internet, the consumers can quickly see that the Local Town Rag has nearly the same content as the Nearby City Gazzete, which is the same content as Foreign City Journal.

    And so they are all going to have their milkshakes drank by google and other services like that.

  • Funny. I remember reading a lot of speeches and dialogue that sounded exactly like this…. Oh yeah! The looters in Atlas Shrugged.

  • Jim

    Maybe if a can of white paint was spilled in a stripe down Google’s back, the French would woo it vigorously.

  • Flubber

    “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.”
    –Adam Smith, “The Wealth of Nations”

  • The French would LOVE to ban Google. Remember, it was the Frinch that decided it is important for the state to spend taxpayer dollars on a French search engine. From EE Times in 2006:

    “PARIS — In the hope of stimulating local technological, industrial and economic development, President Jacques Chirac of France announced Tuesday (April 25) a 2 billion euro (about $2.5 billion) plan to back a series of projects including one on a Franco-German search engine intended to rival Google.”

    Just Google (heh!) “Quaero” for more information about what socialism does to search.

  • BryanS

    “# Mike Says:
    December 19th, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Life without Google? No sweat. Google’s reputation is inflated. All the major search engines deliver excellent results, and most if not all of Google’s hit-and-miss offerings in other areas are easily duplicated.

    Hmmm….work for Microsoft, do we :?) Actually, I have to say you have a point. I used to have a few search engines I used to help find information, but I found Google to almost without exception give better results. Infoseek (morphed into ,,,, and were at one point competing sites for search. Now, though, a number of these companies have given up or basically run off another’s search engine technology.

    Actually, taking a quick look at, it looks ok, so I might try it a few times searching to see how it does. The thing about Google, though, is that compared to all the rest of the search sites above that I used in the past, it always has performed better. And when it didn’t, I learned to use the more advanced search syntax, so my Google-fu overcomes any weakness in the basic search by words. Google really hasn’t given me a reason to not use them almost exclusively.

  • latin thinker and artist

    I’ve never read such a whole bunch of racist comments.
    By the frustrated anger of the author not to have succeeded its commercial negotiations with french editors, some flame war is declared upon the French seen as a whole.

    Which IS incorrect reasoning.

    Now I am asking myself, is Jeff Jarvis a tolerant person, capable of understanding what is at stake for the Network’sfuture, by not expressing the universality or the national neutrality of its greatest contributors ?
    I believe not, and this blog’s post is alas sufficient proof of a narrow mind that reacts badly to frustration.

  • Oh, don’t play the “racist” card.
    It is well known in the industry that French publishers have a uniquely hostile relationship with and attitude about Google. And the French publishers did, indeed, say that.
    This is a legitimate discussion about national attitudes – I do indeed wonder why the French use Google but its business and government leaders are hostile to it (and maybe I’ve just stumbled on the answer). You can join that discussion on its substance and merits. But your volley is off the mark.

  • latin thinker and artist

    Oh don’t assimilate french journalist,or some editors to the WHOLE french population.

    And I can find, french journalmists that likes Google, perhaps the pmajority of fr

    It is you Jeff by ASSIMILATING some behaviour of some french with the whole French population who is activating this flame War.

    And the cause is self evident.

    Plus I did not say that your post was racist, but the COMMENTS were.

    Your article is enticing people to declare their heinous repressed thoughts against the French, because you went a bit too far in your script in saying that the part was a whole.

    Please do not play with me, not even Sergey Brin or Larry Page or Eric Schmidt made such allegations on the French people…
    Guess what ? THEY are in charge of Google strategy and not you.
    Surely a question of elegance, smart attitude, and great intelligence too…

  • Eric Gauvin

    Mike says:

    “Life without Google? No sweat. Google’s reputation is inflated. All the major search engines deliver excellent results, and most if not all of Google’s hit-and-miss offerings in other areas are easily duplicated.”

    This is the key point. Most of Google’s success hinges upon a loyalty that’s based on nothing concrete–popular preference. Right now people love google, but I predict in 5-10 years we’ll be reading “What Would Google Have Done.”

  • Certainly possible; other of the mighty have fallen.
    But key to Google’s success is its critical mass: it has more data about out searches than anyone else, it has more advertisers than anyone else, it will have more data about those ads than anyone else, and that enables Google to serve better search and ads and to become the marketplace for ads. The game isn’t about quality but critical mass.

  • Eric Gauvin

    Seems you should have called your book, What Will Google Do To Us.

  • Or what can we do on top of it? That’s where the opportnity lies.

  • The Black Book of Communism was, rather amazingly, a best-seller in France (but probably nowhere else, sadly). That suggests some hope.

    I have no love for the French; in fact, there is some animus for a public that elects and supports such things and government actions as Chirac (“mon ami, Saddam!”), LePen, uranium mining in Niger, facilitating Rwanda’s massacre, Pacific nuclear testing, educates Pol Pot and Ho Chi Minh (and Kim Jong-Il’s kids), lets Ayatollah Khomeini keep agitating from safety in France, supports Emperor Bokassa, etc.

  • The news about your book not being published in France is starting to make some noise in the french blogosphere, and a few independant online newspapers are starting to talk about it, don’t despair, everybody here is shocked by the news, there must be something we can do about it (and please, once again, the problem is about publishers, and the government, not the French).
    For those of you who read french, please show your support here :

  • Just a comment on that report. There were two different meetings with Josh Cohen in Paris. Most of the hostile critics came from print publishers during the first meeting (as decribed by Eric). The second one was organized with the online press representatives (I was there). None of them consider Google as an ennemy and Josh was treated well.

    I consider we should make a difference between Google as a content distribution partner and the touchy discussion on ads and revenue share and, yes, the global question of market regulation. I m not sure that discussion doesn’t take place in the US too. I keep reading Jeff Jarvis for years and I agree with him most of the time but I think Jeff really underestimate the question of ad revenues, market regulation et some side effects of Google monopoly. I think it’s a very valuable discussion and you can’t just restrain it to a french bashing game.

  • to Briantist

    Bush said word, not work. Its Sarkozy who sez there is no work for the French…

    to the author:

    You write:

    American publishers told me that they have a French rule: If a book succeeds in France, it won’t anywhere else. So they told me to be just as happy that the French haven’t bought it. What is it about the French?

    Stupid publishers probably… We translate and publish more American and English literature in France than the other round, knoweing that the market is much wider in the US and English speaking world. What’s about this attitude of thinking american subject matters are the world’s matters?

  • Also:

    See an interesting comment from one of the most succesful online journals in France:

    When talking of “the French” press, you might differentiate between the journal owners who are friends of the president of France and the other media, particularly on-line media. You migt just think in less comemrcal terms and more political terms and you would probably have clue about the reasons behnd the attack of large media groups –who seek the money of the state to save them from a real collapse– against google.

  • Hi,

    I’m french and I’m sorry about that.

    Anyway, reading your book will be an oppotunity for me to improve my english!

  • Jeff,

    Most of the reaction I’ve seen in France actually comes from the market share: there isn’t a big difference between 91 and 63%, but there is one between 9 and 27%; more over, there has been no alternative to Google for a long time, especially for ad brokers — and it’s not a socialist take to fear monopolies. Although, it’s quite typically ‘colbertian’ of the big print publishers ask for a goverment-enforced salvation plan. Like for Iraq, it’s a situation we’ve been into for a longer period, and you might want to take our advice for want it is (experienced if not informed) rather then what is sounds (arrogant if not clumsy).

    Search/ad-engine appears to be a very strong natural monopoly: no investment (be it Quaero or Live) seems to counter-balance and you might want to think about all the non-search competitors to Google, like Zoho, who simply won’t make it, in spite of having great ideas and a killer cost-structure. Apparently, the first company who did something better then Google and then was crushed by a me-too soon afterwards is Netvibes, a French company. It’s far from dead yet, but that issue has been resonnating for quite some time here.

    A few angry people over-reacted (mostly because they missed the internet turn and feel stupid about it; intellectual pride runs at statospheric levels in French print business) but you might want to temper what I understand to be a management book with some competition policy issues.

    I haven’t read it, and I’ll read with pleasure (I live on top of the best English bookshop in Paris, so don’t worry: I’ll have no problem getting your book); after that, I might want to come back to you with comments on those issues. I’m finishing a PhD on the subject, actually — so I really hope to be able to be concise. In the mean time, please be like a good doctor, or a good shrink: a patient is litterally someone who is in pain; he shouldn’t yell and cry, because it certainly doesn’t help either him to cure, or help you to find a diagnosis — but there generally is a reason behind all that screaming; painkilllers aren’t addressing that. Old media types are most likely wrong about the big picture, and they happen to be more vocal here than there; there is more to their pain then demands for appeasing subsidies.

    Regarding your book: some at RWW France (Fabrice Epelboin’s blog) mentionned a possible User-generated plan to translate and distribute your book outside of a publishers’ control. I’m sure it’s a bad idea for a million reasons, but if you want to put your opus where you mouth apparently is, I’d love to contribute.

    To those who criticize French innovation,

    Please remember the centrality-based search result (the principle behind PageRank) was actually first implemented in AltaVista, by a French IT professor named Louis Monier. He then joined Google: proof that his ideas were better of with a US company managing the business; he recently joined Cuil, yet another disappointment; he went to Silicon Valley soon after his graduation: more proof that France is not the ideal ground for entrepreneurs — but don’t confuse those with innovation. HTML and the WWW never made a buck, and I’m not sure about MP3’s revenues either.

    Also, please remember without that clumsy Minitel project, a modem would be a $15k device; don’t think about DSL either (developped by the same lab); there would therefore most likely be five servers in the world (just like that All-American IBM planned); four of which would be US-military. France didn’t invent the internet; our geeks simply though that the “to every home” part would be useful, so unless you’ve worked directly with Vint Cerf, you might want to be grateful.

    Yes, Europe doesn’t like monopolies like Microsoft, and we tend to regulate them into being competitive and not bullies; we socialists tend to pay long studies to slackers like Linus Torvalds; we *are* bad at hoarding money when open standards might be a better option. When companies seem to be a better idea (distribution, industrial design, luxury) Europe seems to do not that bad, though. So don’t judge people too quickly and do what a good journalist would do: call the person and ask about his opinion.

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