France and Germany have parted ways on the ambitious European search engine project dubbed Quaero. France will continue to work on Quaero on its own, while Germany plans to start work on its own project, dubbed Theseus.

When the Quaero project was originally announced earlier this year, it was sold as an attempt to develop European competition to the American search engine giants Google and Yahoo! by indexing text, photos, and videos. At the time, it seemed as if France, which was heading up the project, was merely looking for an excuse to reinvent the wheel in hopes of providing a European counterbalance to a market dominated by American firms. The groups participating in the project included France Telecom, Deutsche Telecom, and a number of companies from both countries.

The French and German partners involved in Quaero faced "differences over technology," officials from the French Agency for Industrial Innovation (FAII) told IDG, saying that the project is now being reshaped. France's plan was to continue down the multimedia search path while Germany wanted to focus more on text analyzation, forcing the two to go their separate ways.

The FAII seems to be trying to save face in light of the separation. "There will be a French project and a German project, and as they are not working in the same areas, they will not be rivals but complementary to each other there will be two programs instead of one," a spokesperson told AFP.

In reality, further division of the project is not likely to be a good thing for Quaero, which was already on somewhat questionable ground. 12 months after its initial announcement, the Quaero project is still in the idea phase while awaiting approval from the EC's Competition Directorate in 2007 along with funding. Will Quaero manage to be relevant once it launches?