Was just reading yest another anti-Google, anti-advertisement article. Is it just me? Why do people (journalists?) have to live in the Bisounours' world?
History has proved that search engines led by public initiatives have failed because:
1) they would look like a 1990's interface
Cool webdesigners prefer to join private ventures (when they don't launch their own)
2) It would be led by one country more than as a global initiative. Because we'll never agreement across countries to develop such a search engine. We don't even get agreement for obvious things like stop having wars or stop ruining our environment.
3) It would therefore not serve the needs of all countries. It would probably work great in Germany, France & Belgium (who are the kind of countries that would support such idea), but would probably not serve relevant results in America (who has historically supported private initiatives and already has Google making tremendous efforts to serve relevant results to American internet users) nor in Greece who hasn't got a penny to invest in such initiative, and would probably end up having inaccurate / non-localized results.
4) Oh, by the way, why would it work that great in France? Sarkozy's team is all about saving money, especially on education (we're talking about the same thing here. Access to knowledge). Why would he invest in this? Plus, he's currently busy investing in cops, to maintain the precarious pre-revolutionary state his country is in.
And if he wasn't to invest, say, a billion or 2 in this project, how would he address the unemployed and the trade unions who are already complaining about unfair use of public money?
At the same time, Google, although an American business, tries its best to serve relevant and localized results to internet users around the world.
And yes, it's doing so along with advertising, which brings the funds to provide the information (and the additional sponsored information) that internet users wouldn't have had access to in the last decade and still today.