#iMinds 2013: What if…?

This article was also published on Waltzing Matilda Blog

Last 5 December I have had the pleasure to attend the iMinds conference in Brussels. iMinds is an independent research institute founded by the Flemish government to stimulate ICT innovation. iMinds brings together companies, authorities, and non-profit organizations to join forces on research projects.

The theme of the event was “driving digital innovation in Europe” and the leitmotiv of most presentations during the day was “What if…?” This question is the foundation of every invention, but of course an invention does not always turn into innovation. Because most challenges cannot be solved by a single effort or organization successful and innovative ideas need a structure.

One of the first lessons at this regards was given by Bart Decrem (SVP at The Walt Disney Company) who talked about his personal experiences in the Silicon Valley and his involvement in various projects and start-ups, leading up to the acquisition of his mobile gaming company Tapulous by Disney. Bart provided insight into the Disney strategy on mobile content and talked about the next big things he sees coming in digital technology.

My favourite quote from this part (and from the entire day) was “Successful apps are those that change people’s behaviour”

This is so true. In a market saturated with apps, many of which present very similar functionalities, the only ones deserve the “success” labels are those that managed to stick to people’s mind and actually make an impact on how people simply “do things.” Continue reading “#iMinds 2013: What if…?”

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QWANTity or quality: what’s qwant all about?


Qwant is a search engine launched by a French-owned and managed start-up. You enter your search query and Qwant provides results based on web pages, news, videos, images and also social networks.

Below the search bar you will also find trending topics of the day. Although, I haven’t managed to discover what this algorithm is based on.

CatturaWe are all aware that Google has (almost???) monopolized the world of search engines by integrating the most used services world-wide under one big umbrella (Google searches, Google maps, gmail, Google earth, Google docs). Ergo, you would think that challenging such a giant should come from a very revolutionary product.

According to their brand, Qwant’s goal is to revolutionize the way a user conducts research on the Internet. I admire the attempt and boldness of a small start up to challenge a giant in a David vs Goliath like battle on the other hand I must point out a few factors:

Here is for instance what happens if you enter “European Commission.”

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It is indeed an interesting overview. On the other hand, let’s try to analyse these results from the user’s point of view.

  • Experience matters. I remember when I was 13 or 14 years old (I’m 27) and had this wide range of search engines Altavista, Virgilio, Yahoo, Arianna. Even looking for the most common term was like wandering on a J-STOR list of papers on neo-liberal international relations theory. It is indeed hard to get accustomed to new ways to look for and filter information. This should not however be a point against Qwant.
  • Where’s the added value? The integration with social media seems to be their USP. However, Google does the same, and does it pretty well to. If we take the example of Twitter, I think Google does it even better than Twitter itself especially when it comes to looking for profiles. I use Google and type “twitter [name]” and, wow, it’s right there.
  • Quality vs Qwantity: In an era of information overload, users will be looking more and more for accurate search results. Qwant provides broader overviews but still lacks of targeted result display.
  • Qwant powers its search with Bing. Bing!???

Google are just smart. 15 years or search experience smart, and it’s hard to think another search engine is going to ‘dethrone’ them or even take 0.01% of the search market. As my coach says “good effort” but Qwant is not going to bring the game home.