Japan’s government, high-tech firms and universities will team up to develop their own Internet search technology, an official said, amid soaring profits for US giant Google.
A study group will meet this month with participation from more than 20 companies and universities, said the information policy official at the trade ministry.
The companies will include leading electronics firms Matsushita Electric Industrial, Hitachi, NEC and Fujitsu as well as telecom carrier Nippon Telegraph and Telephone and public broadcaster NHK, he said.
“Information searches have become a source of wealth,” he said. “We want to consider what Japanese companies can do in the current situation where overseas forces are dominant.”
“Japanese companies should have competitive power,” said the official who declined to be named.
The AP has a slightly different take:
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will kick off a study group consisting about 20 Japanese electronics companies and universities on Internet search engines, said Fumihiro Kajikawa, a ministry official in charge of information policies.
The group will hold the first meeting Friday and plans to put together an interim report by March and a final report by July, he said.
“The group will look into issues including whether Japan will start its own search engine,” he said.
The group plans to look into developing a search engine for pictures, the official added.
The report said that Japan wants to come up with its own version of search engine to catch up with the American companies that receive high profits from online ad revenues.
Kajikawa could not confirm the report.
“It is not that we want to play against (Google and Yahoo). We are thinking of something that’s unique to Japan,” he said.
Since as has been observed, “Search is a commodity – Ad serving is the business“, one can’t help but wonder whether they are going to address that aspect or it’s just more algorithm research. In any case, there’s possible government sponsored competition on the horizon for MSN Search as well as all the other Web search players.