French search engine Qwant launches German version | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 06.03.2014
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French search engine Qwant launches German version

Qwant, a search engine promising users more privacy and "something different," has been launched in Germany. But whether the service will experience a high uptake among users remains to be seen.

Google is the default search engine on hundreds of millions of computers and mobile devices around the world. But like most US-based companies, the Internet giant has come under fire for how it handles our data. Users in Germany who would like a search engine that offers more privacy may have a solution. This week, French search engine Qwant launched its German version.

In every country where Qwant is available, the results are displayed according to a specific algorithm for that country, meaning that everyone there sees the same results, says Qwant co-founder and CEO Eric Léandri.

Unlike Google, Bing or other mainstream search engines, Qwant doesn't work with cookies - data that is sent from your browser to a website so that it can be notified of your previous activity on your next visit. This is what allows the search engines to customize the results according to user's location and past visits.

Since Qwant doesn't collect cookies, anyone using the service also gets the anonymity that Google or Bing do not offer them.

No filter bubble

Qwant has a different concept from Google, its co-founder says, and it does not see itself as a competitor because it is trying to do something different.

"When Google started, the Web was based on pages, but now we think of object," he explains.

By default, Qwant search results are displayed in different categories according to color: traditional web sites (green), news (orange), social networks and blogs (blue), commercial sites (yellow), and red for different types of media - be it videos, images or audio.

Users can also use a plus button to curate the material if they have a Qwant account, or they can use a comment function to share the link on social media.

"We are proposing a new way to collect data from the Internet," says Léandri.

Users may stick to default

Unlike a search engine like Google, Qwant isn't interested in user data because it makes money from its B2B business rather than what ordinary users do on the Web. The company counts NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) among its clients for its search engine indexing.

But it is hard to say whether Qwant will experience the same amount of success among ordinary users who may continue turning to whatever the default search engine in their browser is. Last year, the search engine only had 506 million queries from the time it launched it in July. That figure, which is for the whole year, is less than 10 percent of Google's daily average for search queries in 2013.

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